British & Irish Lions

You must be joking! Lions coach Gatland’s Super Rugby claim ridiculed by All Blacks boss

Hansen says his opposite number ‘trying a bit of humour’ by suggesting New Zealand play at a similar level to club sides like Auckland Blues

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 June, 2017, 1:37pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 June, 2017, 1:37pm

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen is expecting the “kitchen sink” from the British & Irish Lions – but scoffed at Warren Gatland’s suggestion the All Blacks weren’t much better than a Super Rugby team.

The Lions suffered a shock 22-16 loss to the Auckland Blues – who are New Zealand’s worst Super Rugby side this season – following an unconvincing victory over the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians in their tour opener.

Hansen said his opposite number must be “trying a bit of humour”.

“I don’t think there’s any comparison between Super Rugby and test rugby. I don’t know what his thinking is,” said the All Blacks coach.

Hansen blamed teething problems among the composite side for the Lions’ performances, as he named a 33-man squad for the three-test series starting on June 24.

Rather than criticise the visitors after Wednesday’s defeat to the Blues, Hansen called them “the best Lions side to come here”.

“They’re in the infancy of this tour, they’ll only get better, and they’ll be a good side when the tests come round,” Hansen said.

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“It’s well documented they only want to win the Test matches and Gatland has made that very, very clear. The first test is all he has his eyes on and I don’t think he’s too bothered about what happens between now and then.”

Hansen said the Lions’ tough schedule was to blame, saying the All Blacks wouldn’t even have attempted to play so soon after arriving for a tour.

“To be arriving on the Wednesday and playing on the Saturday is just too tough. We wouldn’t do it,” he said.

“You can look at the first performance and let it go, and last night there were still guys out there trying to find out who their mate is.

“We won’t be foolish enough to rock up and think we can just expect a soft game. We’ll get the kitchen sink thrown at us.”

Gatland’s Lions will find a similarity with the All Blacks in their next match on Saturday against the Canterbury Crusaders.

The Super Rugby competition leaders feature an all All Blacks tight five with another All Black prop and lock on the bench.