10 Jun 2018

Hansen denies French 'illegal tactics' claims

4:05 pm on 10 June 2018

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has denied claims from French counterpart Jacques Brunel the Kiwi side used "illegal tactics" during their resounding victory in Saturday night's first test in Auckland.

France's Remy Grosso (L) walks from the field after running into All Blacks Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Sam Cane during the Steinlager Series rugby match between the All Blacks and France at the Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday the 9th of June 2018. Copyright Photo by Marty Melville / www.Photosport.nz

French wing Remy Grosso leaves Eden Park with a facial injury. Photo: Photosport

French wing Remy Grosso was caught around the head and taken from the field after a tackle involving All Blacks duo Sam Cane and Ofa Tu'ungafasi during the second half of the home team's thumping 52-11 win at Eden Park.

Subsequent scans have revealed Grosso has two facial fractures, with replays showing Cane's arm catching a falling Grosso across the face before Grosso's face also makes contact with Tu'ungafasi's shoulder.

Brunel claimed the injury is a result of "illegal tactics" by the All Blacks and also lambasted the fact Cane or Tu'ungafasi were not carded for the tackle, especially considering French lock Paul Gabrillagues was handed what appeared a harsh yellow card for a high tackle earlier in the second spell.

But speaking to media on Sunday morning, Hansen said any suggestions his players actions were malicious were off the mark.

"When you get two guys coming in to make a tackle on one player things can change late and I think that's what happened.

"Sammy made the tackle and Ofa ended up hitting [Grosso] in the face with his shoulder accidentally, there's no intention to hurt him.

"Unfortunately it's one of those things, all three of them got head knocks. Sam got an elbow to the face from the French guy and I think he might have got Ofa's head as well, so Ofa was causing quite a bit of carnage.

"When the game is fluid like it is and players change angle late and you are commmited, especially if you are a big guy of about 126 or 127 kgs like Ofa is, it's difficult to get out of the way.

"It's accidental and just one of those things."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. Photo: photosport

Claims of the All Blacks being out to break the rules are not new, with critics and opposing fans often making complaints of that nature.

As head coach of the number one team in the world, though, Hansen said the accusations just came with the territory.

"We been called cheats for 100 years haven't we?

"If you keep winning I suppose people have got to find reasons .... Richie McCaw was the biggest cheat ever but he didn't cheat, he just played to the letter of the law.

"When Auckland were playing Canterbury they were the biggest cheats and when Canterbury got on top they were the biggest cheats.

"You've just got to roll with that stuff and don't take too much notice of it."

Cane or Tu'ungafasi were yet to be cited for the tackle, but the latter did post a message to Grosso on Twitter.

"Remy, I hope you're recovering well. It was a physical game and it wasn't my intention to hurt you.

"I'm also gutted that I didn't get to see u (sic) after the game and u weren't well for me to visit u in hospital this morning before we left but I hope to catch up soon brother."

Meanwhile, Hansen added he was comfortable with how Cane and Ofa Tu'ungafasi were handled after their head collision making the tackle on Grosso.

Six and a half minutes passed before Cane was taken from the field for a head assessment, while Tu'ungafasi didn't leave the field at all.

Hansen was happy with how the situation was handled.

"The process is in place. I'm happy with our doctor, he was happy, and then the sideline doctor decided 'no, I want to have a look at him'.

"That may have been because he watched Sam for the next five minutes and thought 'no, he might not be right so I'll check him'.

"You got to just trust their ability to do their job."

The All Blacks coach also had news on the injured duo of midfielder Sonny Bill Williams and uncapped flanker Jordan Taufua.

After initially being ruled out of the three-test series against France because of the need to have minor surgery on his knee, Williams has been cleared to return to training this week and could be available for the third test.

The news is not so positive for Taufua, who is out of the series after scans revealed the calf injury which ruled him out of selection for the first test was in fact a tear.


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