Hansen not 'whining' over rare red

Sat, 01 Jul 2017 13:04
Large steve hansen all blacks hand on head 800

LIONS TOUR REACTION: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said there would be no "whining" from the New Zealanders over the Sonny Bill Williams red card that proved pivotal in his side's dramatic loss to the British and Irish Lions.

Star centre Williams became the first All Black to be sent off in 50 years after a shoulder-charge on Anthony Watson, giving the Lions a one-man advantage for 55 minutes in their 24-21 win in Wellington.

It was the All Blacks' first loss on home soil since September 2009, and only the fifth defeat of Hansen's five-and-a-half year tenure. He said he was proud of the way his team "gutsed it out" despite the disadvantage, and held off the Lions until the final minutes.

But he said the courageous performance by 14 men did not ease the pain of defeat, which levels the series at 1-1 and sets up a decider in Auckland next week.

"Losing sucks whether you've got 15, 25 or two. It sucks. But tonight is our turn to take it on the chin. It's all very well being gracious winners but we've got to accept that we got beaten by a team that played better than us," Hansen said.

Hansen refused to criticise referee Jerome Garces and accepted the referees' decision to send Williams off for a shoulder charge, although he argued that "it could have been a yellow or a red".

"There's no point whining about it. Sonny didn't use his arms, so he put himself at risk and unfortunately collected young Anthony's head. You don't want that and the referee deemed it a red card," he added.

Captain Kieran Read also said he could not fault the red card, only the third ever given to a New Zealand international and the first handed to an All Black in a home Test.

"I didn't have a great look [at the incident] but that's how it is these days. If it's to the head you just have to cop it don't you?" he said.

Hansen said he did not believe Williams intended to hurt Watson, saying the player committed a spur-of-the-moment action in the midst of an intense Test match.

"Things happen in the heat of the moment and players end up getting on the wrong side of the law," he stated.

He said the Lions had a similar problem when Mako Vunipola was sin-binned after two dangerous tackles on Beauden Barrett. The All Blacks coach was also philosophical about the late penalty that Charlie Faumuina conceded for tackling Kyle Sinckler in the air, which allowed Owen Farrell to kick the winning points.

"It's tough but the law's the law. A guy like Charlie's about to make his tackle, he's big boy about 130kg he hasn't got the ability to stop half way through," he said.

He added that he was excited about the Auckland showdown, which will see the Lions attempt to win their first series in New Zealand since 1971.

"We have to go away now and prepare better work harder and come tout to try and win the series next week," he stated.

Agence France-Presse

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