Hansen stands by his man after All Blacks win

Michael Cheika unhappy with Brodie Retallick incident during New Zealand’s 35-29 win

 New Zealand’s Beauden Barrett celebrates his late try with his brother Scott. Photograph: Joe Allison/Inpho

New Zealand’s Beauden Barrett celebrates his late try with his brother Scott. Photograph: Joe Allison/Inpho

 

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has defended lock Brodie Retallick after his clash with Wallabies flanker Ned Hanigan during the Rugby Championship match in Dunedin. Retallick upended Hanigan as they were getting to their feet following a tackle in the first half, prompting an angry outburst from Wallabies coach Michael Cheika after referee Nigel Owens let the incident go unpunished.

Hansen said there was no intent from Retallick. “When somebody jumps on top of you, you get up on your knees and he falls off, it’s an accident,” he said. “It’s not a deliberate act.”

Owens and television official Rowan Kitt reviewed footage of the incident and both said at the time they believed the players had just been clumsy in getting to their feet. Cheika, however, said after the All Blacks’ nail-biting 35-29 win that the incident was clear cut and Retallick had “categorically” picked up Hanigan and dumped him on his head.

“I don’t want to get into that,” Hansen added. “(Cheika) made his point and that’s fine.”

The incident has echoes of a similar dispute last year when the Wallabies coach accused Owen Franks of eye-gouging Kane Douglas during the clash in Wellington. Southern hemisphere rugby’s governing body Sanzaar reviewed the Franks incident and said there was no case to answer. Hansen said he felt the Retallick incident was exactly the same.

The All Blacks coach added he had few injury concerns as they head into the week off, but tighthead prop Franks, who was ruled out of the Dunedin test, will likely miss the remainder of the Rugby Championship after sustaining an Achilles injury.

“I think we are aiming, if we do get him back, for the end of year tour,” Hansen said. “But we won’t risk it. He is an older athlete, got a lot of miles on the clock. If we want to get him to the World Cup we just have to do things right with him.”

Centre Ryan Crotty and flanker Sam Cane, who failed head injury assessments, would also be monitored ahead of the All Blacks’ next match against Argentina in New Plymouth on September 9th.

For this part, Cheika may have been downcast but the match showed him his team could play at the same level as the world champions. The Wallabies were embarrassed by the All Blacks in Sydney last week when they were hammered 54-34 but lifted their performance in Dunedin, built on a stinging defence and far more direct attack.

While they blew an early 17-0 advantage, they defended superbly in the third quarter and then took a 29-28 lead with four minutes remaining through a Kurtley Beale try before Beauden Barrett struck back to seal the victory.

“We can’t be happy with losing,” Cheika said in Sydney upon the team’s return from New Zealand. “We can be proud of how we performed but we need to make sure that we don’t sit down on that and that we keep improving for the next one. We can play at this level, it’s about being consistent and it’s about having the mental aptitude to play at that level all the time, never having a minute off.”

Meanwhile, Argentina’s growing desperation for a win against Tier One opposition is clouding their vision and led to the indiscipline that marred Saturday’s performance against South Africa. “We weren’t patient, we didn’t have control when we should have,” captain Agustin Creevy said after the Springboks’ 41-23 victory in Salta.

South Africa notched up their first away win of the season, beating a Pumas side who played the last quarter a man short after lock Tomas Lavanini’s red card. “It’s very hard to play with 14 players for almost half a match of this kind,” explained Creevy, adding the sin binning earlier in the afternoon of Lavanini, for his first yellow card, and Juan Manuel Leguizamon.

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