New Zealand

All Blacks fuming over 'cheap shot'

Sat, 20 Oct 2012 21:00
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It's on TV so it will get dealt with
Quote-end

New Zealand players and officials were fuming over the "cheap shot" of Australian loose forward Scott Higginbotham on All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw.

Higginbotham has been cited for two offences in Australia's 18-all draw with New Zealand in Brisbane on Saturday.

His actions left the Kiwi coach, Steve Hansen, seething with anger.

While the All Blacks missed the chance for a record-equalling 17th straight Test win, Hansen's frustrations bubbled over after Higginbotham struck McCaw with the knee in the head and when they became involved in a scuffle, he also head-butted the Kiwi skipper.

The incident revived memories of Quade Cooper's knee to McCaw's head at the same ground 14 months ago when the Wallabies playmaker escaped the next day when exonerated at a judicial hearing.

"I saw the head-butt - it's another cheap shot," Hansen said.

"He seems to get them every week but everyone seems to miss them."

When asked further about the Higginbotham incident, Hansen flared: "You people [media] see it week in, week out, for yourselves.

"And instead of asking us to talk about it I ask you to say actually what do you think? If you don't think it's right, then write that.

"All we can say is that we saw it, it was a cheap shot, and then hope that the judiciary will sort it out. If they don't then we'll just get on and have another game next week."

McCaw admitted he was annoyed at the time and expected the judicial process to take its course against Higginbotham.

"It's on TV so it will get dealt with," he said.

"It does get frustrating at times and annoying but there's not much I can do about it."

Higginbotham has been cited under Law 10.4.a: Punching or Striking.

Springboks prop Dean Greyling copped a two-week ban, which effectively was a one-Test suspension, after he was found guilty of striking McCaw last month.

Greyling's elbow appeared more blatant and heavier contact was made but sentences have been inconsistent.

Hansen was disappointed only to have drawn with Australia to end their 16-match unbeaten run.

But he praised McCaw's decision to opt for a scrum after the fulltime siren and go after victory, rather than playing it safe and kicking the ball into touch to end the game.

"What we do take out of it is that to play as poorly as we did and still manage to show the character and tenacity to get a draw is pleasing," he said.

"I thought it showed huge character to take a scrum after the (final) hooter and to actually get in a position to drop-kick a goal.

"Unfortunately this time DC [Dan Carter] missed it but we know it's probably the hardest thing in the game to do to drop-kick a goal. I thought the character and composure to do that was marvellous.

"The character of the bloke [McCaw] is that he wants to win, a draw is not a win, so that's something to be applauded. That's the way we are and we gave ourselves a chance and didn't quite finish it."

New Zealand next play Scotland on November 11 in the first of four Tests in Europe next month.

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