June 26, 2017 / 12:58 AM / 2 months ago

Hansen dismisses 'desperate' Gatland's claims about Murray

Rugby Union - New Zealand All Blacks v British and Irish Lions - Lions Tour - Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand - June 24, 2017. Lions' Conor Murray reacts after injuring his hand.David Gray

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has responded testily to Warren Gatland's claims that his side had deliberately tried to hurt British and Irish Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray during the first test in Auckland on Saturday.

Lions coach Gatland accused the All Blacks of intentionally diving into Murray's legs to hurt him rather than negate his box kicking, and said he would ask the second test referee Jerome Garces to be vigilant on illegal tactics.

The All Blacks beat the Lions 30-15 at Eden Park to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

In the leadup to the first test, Gatland claimed the world champions engaged in illegal scrummaging and blocking of runners chasing kicks.

"It's predictable coming from Gatland -- two weeks ago we cheated in the scrums, last week it was blocking, now we're saying this," Hansen told RadioSport on Monday.

"I guess he might be a bit desperate or something. I don't know why he would be saying it."

Hansen denied there was a deliberate ploy to injure Murray.

Rugby Union - New Zealand All Blacks v British and Irish Lions - Lions Tour - Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand - June 24, 2017. Lions' Conor Murray in action.Nigel Marple

"We are not intentionally trying to hurt anyone," he said. It never will be (the way we play) as long as I'm involved with the All Blacks.

"It is really, really disappointing. We're trying to charge the kick down and or tackle him.

"Just because he is one of their key players, he doesn't have the right to go around the park without being charged down or tackled."

None of the All Blacks were cautioned during the match but there was a huge chorus of boos from the mass of Lions fans in the eastern stand of the ground after Murray was knocked to the pitch and slow to get back up during the first half.

Hansen, however, said if there had been any foul play then his players would have been cited by disciplinary officials.

"It wasn't in the game ... there's a guy watching for foul play all the time," he said.

"If (the official) thought it, he would have indicated that to the referee.

"We want to play hard and fair and want teams to do the same to us. Then we will see who has the best skill sets and takes the opportunities in 80 minutes. Then it's start again."

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ian Ransom

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