Gatland v Hansen: The best of the verbals
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: All Black coach Steve Hansen insisted Thursday his so-called war of words with British and Irish Lions counterpart Warren Gatland had been ramped up by the media.
Hansen added he respected Gatland and wanted to have "a beer and a chuckle" with him once the Test series was over.
But the verbal jousting has proven almost as entertaining as the rugby during the tour. AFP recalls some of the highlights:
Hansen gets in a pre-tour dig over claims Gatland has a one-dimensional "Warrenball" game plan:
"We assume Warren's not going to have an epiphany and change the way he plays."
Gatland tries to draw positives from an early tour loss to the Blues:
"I don't think there will be much of a difference between Super Rugby sides and the All Blacks. It's going to give us great preparation playing at this level and learning from these hard, competitive games."
Hansen scoffs at Gatland's comments:
"I just think he was trying a bit of humour after struggling a wee bit with his press conference before. I don't think there's any comparison between Super Rugby and Test rugby. I don't know what his thinking is."
Gatland accuses New Zealand of illegal blocking tactics before the first Test:
"It's part of the game in New Zealand, all New Zealand teams are doing it at the moment... we've just got to hope the referees, assistant referees and the TMOs pick up what's going on."
Hansen hits back:
"There's no point in trying to bully the referees publicly in the media."
Gatland's said of Hansen's demeanour before the first Test:
"He's a little bit more worried than he normally is, saying these comments about us, things he knows about or doesn't know about, that is normally a sign of a man that is a little bit worried.
"It's unlike Steve and maybe he is worried by potentially how good this team can be."
In the wake of the Lions' 15-30 loss in the first Test, Gatland accuses the All Blacks of foul play when targeting his scrumhalf Conor Murray:
"There was a charge down where someone dived at his legs. I thought 'that's a little bit dangerous', and after he's kicked he's been pushed a few times, pushed to the ground.
"They're actually diving blindly and hitting someone's leg. It's a safety issue for me. I'd hate to see someone dive at his leg and have him blow a knee and then wreck his rugby career."
An irate Hansen calls talkback radio and comes out all guns blazing:
"It's predictable comments from Gatland, isn't it? Two weeks ago we cheated in the scrums and last week it was blocking and now he's saying this.
"It's really, really disappointing to hear it because what he's implying is we're intentionally going out to injure somebody."
Gatland says he's not affected by Hansen's jibes or a newspaper cartoon depicting him as a clown:
"I'm not bothered what [Hansen] says or what a newspaper draws. I hope it was a happy clown, that's all. I'd like to think as a Kiwi that some things about me would be more positive from some media, but that hasn't happened.
"One or two people have had a personal campaign against me, but that's water off a duck’s back. I couldn’t give a toss."