Rugby World Cup: Steve Hansen Fires Back After Stuart Barnes Labels All Blacks ‘Cynical Cheats’
On the eve of the World Cup, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has labelled Stuart Barnes’ accusations that his side are “cynical cheats” at the breakdown as a “waste of time”.
On Sunday, the former British and Irish Lions playmaker caused a stir in the Shaky Isles after his weekly column in The Times.
Barnes wrote that Hansen’s decision to include three No 7s — Sam Cane, Ardie Savea and Matt Todd — in his World Cup squad was a clear indication that the All Blacks were “paranoid about openside cover”.
By his own admission, Hansen said following his side’s 36-0 demolition of the Wallabies last month in Bledisloe II that the decision to start two openside flankers goes against the norm.
“I was really, really happy with how the (back-row) trio went,” Hansen told reporters at Eden Park.
“It’s an interesting one for All Black rugby, we don’t normally have two short blokes.
“But the physicality that the skip’s bringing and the physicality that Ardie brings and the physicality that Sam brings allows us to probably do that.”
But it was Barnes’ next comment that really rattled New Zealand’s scribes, after he wrote that the All Blacks had opted to select three opensides in a deliberate attempt to slow the ball down during the tournament in Japan.
“New Zealand, the most positive attacking team in the world, have their flip side,” Barnes wrote in The Times.
“They are also the most cynical cheats at a breakdown.
“Not just scrabbling on their knees during the jackal, but also being round the wrong side of a ruck, not by much, but enough for the referee to berate and send him back; enough to slow down possession.
“Having a hand illegally on the ball, long enough for the referee to say: ‘Hands off.’
“Long enough to slow attack down.”
Author: Christy Doran.