Lions coach Warren Gatland has reacted angrily to how New Zealand charged down Conor Murray during Saturday’s opening Test in Auckland. Murray, who uses the box-kick to great effect for Munster, Ireland and the Lions, was hit a number of times and this frustrated Gatland who felt the All Blacks were going in late on the Limerick man.
The Lions move onto Wellington for the second Test with Gatland hoping that players like Murray will be protected more from the match officials:
“When you see someone dive at someone’s leg and it’s blind, you feel for the player, and it’s a little bit concerning that they are actually not trying to charge the kick down, because they are nowhere near it.
“They are actually diving blindly and hitting someone’s leg.
“So for me it’s just about protecting the players, making sure they are safe and that’s my biggest concern.
It wasn’t just low tackles on Murray that annoyed his coach, it was more off the ball activity that he said the All Blacks engaged in.
“And after he’s kicked he’s been pushed a few times, and pushed to the ground.”
The Lions coach admitted that the Lions will seek clarification from officials as to why Murray didn’t win penalties for these late tackles.
“So they are not massive issues for us, but just making sure he’s being looked after and protected and not harassed after he’s box kicked.
“So we’ll probably just get some clarity from the ref later in the week.”
After scoring a last-minute try to add a bit of respectability to the scoreboard, the Lions coach admitted that the man-in-the-middle didn’t impact the result.
“We can’t complain about the referee in terms of the way he controlled the match.”
With a mid-week fixture against the Hurricanes before the second Test on Saturday, Gatland knows that things are heating up as the tour reaches its latter stages.
“This week is really important for us.
It’s important, not just for Gatland, but for the mid-week players, who look to force their way into the squad for the vital second Test.
Joel Slattery, Pundit Arena
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