We don't do things intentionally
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen stood his ground, claiming his players are not 'thugs', despite a second member of the squad being cited for foul play.
New Zealand hooker Andrew Hore was on Sunday formally cited for his cheap shot on Wales lock Bradley Davies in the All Blacks' 33-10 win in Cardiff at the weekend - a king-hit which not only left the Welshman prone on the ground, but saw the second row forward taken to hospital for treatment.
The citing of Hore comes just two days after the IRB stepped in to lengthen what they termed an ‘unduly lenient' ban of All Black flank Adam Thomson for stomping on the head of an opponent earlier in the Kiwis' year-end tour.
Hore was cited because he struck Davies with a punch from behind early in the game in the Millennium Stadium.
"Andrew Hore, hooker for New Zealand, has been cited by the IRB's independent Citing Commissioner for allegedly striking an opponent during the match between Wales and New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday," said a statement from the Six Nations Committee.
"The relevant incident occurred in the second minute of the match and involved Wales lock forward Bradley Davies.
"The time and date of the hearing, before the IRB's appointed independent judicial officer, have yet to be fixed."
However, Hansen fended off accusations that the All Blacks have become the new thugs of world rugby.
Heading into the final leg of their four-Test tour against England at Twickenham, New Zealand are earning the wrong sort of press following Hore's king hit on Davies.
Media reports have focused on the All Blacks' cynical approach, while Hore's incident became a focal point in social media in the wake of the Welsh Test.
Hansen have already called in three-Test hooker Hika Elliot into the squad as cover for Hore, with the Kiwi mentor admitting that the 34-year-old veteran is facing a ban when he appears before a disciplinary hearing.
However, Hansen disputes that his World Cup champion side adopt the dirty approach that is being touted.
"We don't do things intentionally," Hansen said.
In fact he suggested that they are often the target of foul play.
"I think we've shown plenty of times over the past 12 months that we're a disciplined side, you've only got to take a look at all the incidents that have surrounded [captain] Richie [McCaw] and we've not jumped in and made a big scene.
"I'm resigned to the fact he [Hore] has been cited, it happens every time we come up here.
"I think they think we're thugs or something, but we don't play any differently to anyone else."
The All Blacks are gearing for a grilling by the English media, with No.8 Kieran Read banking on a "difficult" week on and off the pitch.
"I guess they [the English press] will probably be coming pretty hard at us, that's always the way," Read said.
"We'll have to just take what happened and go through the right process."
Throw in more minor concerns over prop Tony Woodcock (hip), and backs Beauden Barrett (ribs), and Aaron Cruden (leg cramps) and suddenly the final hurdle for 2012 looks a little tricky.
On the playing front, Hore's absence seems likely, based on video evidence.
Combined with Mealamu's aging legs, the situation could further fast-track the budding test career of Coles, who got his third cap against Wales.
"If it has to happen we'll be comfortable," Hansen said.
"He's a young man who has come on the tour and done everything he's needed to do. He's been great off the park, he's fitted in and he's wanted to learn.
"When he's been on the park he's performed well and gotten better and better with a lot of his work.
"It's a little like losing DC [Dan Carter] and having to put Aaron [Cruden] in. I know Aaron's had more games [than Coles] but the expectation is when you pull the jersey on you have to play.
"We don't need him to be Andrew Hore, or Keven Mealamu, we just need him to be him and everyone around him has to do a bit more."
However, Hansen's mood may darken this week should Hore's actions take the gloss off a memorable and, thus far, unbeaten season.
It is an embarrassing situation for the New Zealand Rugby Union with Chief Executive Steve Tew spending much of the past three weeks in Europe extolling the virtues of the All Blacks' brand.
Whatever the build up holds, Hansen believes England present a genuine threat to his side having a relaxing summer, though he noted their losses to Australia (20-14) last week and yesterday to South Africa (16-15).
"They could have won the game and if you look at the Aussie game they could have won that too and they'd be sitting there with a perfect record waiting for us," Hansen said.
"Unfortunately for us they're not because they will be even more determined."