Steve Hansen took aim at Wales rugby coach Warren Gatland as the All Blacks prepare to fight to clear star pivot Dan Carter of a dangerous high tackle charge in London Tuesday.
The All Blacks assistant coach was unimpressed with Gatland’s comments after the All Blacks’ 19-12 win in Cardiff when he said Carter should have been sin-binned for his 72nd-minute high shot on Welsh halfback Martin Roberts.
Carter was cited almost 24 hours after the Test, with Australian citing commissioner Scott Nowland deciding he had a case to answer after Referee Craig Joubert took no action at the time.
Hansen will accompany Carter to London late where a London-based lawyer will represent him at the hearing before International Rugby Board-appointed judicial officer Jeff Blackett, who is also the Rugby Football Union’s disciplinary chief.
“It doesn’t help that Warren has got a bit upset by it, but he’s his own man and he did a lot of talking through the week so why would he stop at the end of it?,” Hansen said as the team arrived in Milan.
Hansen said he had a lot of faith in Blackett and expected Carter would get a fair hearing.
He admitted he was “a wee bit” surprised by Carter’s citing, which came after the five-eighth was named man-of-the-match but booed by the 74,000-strong packed house after the tackle on a try-bound Roberts.
“I think we’ve got a good case but, again, it’s pointless talking about it in the media. Once you go into the hearing it’s better to keep your gob shut and let the process sort itself out.”
Asked his opinion of the tackle, Hansen offered: “I’ve seen plenty of them before, we’ll just leave it at that.”
Roberts meanwhile said Carter offered an apology, which he accepted.
“Looking at the replay it did look quite high. He did apologise to me. He said ‘sorry for the tackle’ after the game,” he told reporters.
“Things like that happen in games, and you just have to take it on the chin. It looked bad, but I was fine.”
While he was guarded on his feelings about whether the citing was justified, Hansen also ducked the tricky issue of whether Carter would have been named to play Italy anyway.
It is widely understood Carter was set to rest along with several other frontliners this week, with coach Graham Henry saying yesterday the Italy test was a chance to give more fringe players a chance.
With Carter facing a one-match ban if found guilty — as teammates Sitiveni Sivivatu (dangerous tackle) and Tony Woodcock (striking) received in Tokyo — then he would be back to face England at Twickenham on November 21.
“We haven’t picked the team yet so we’ll just wait and see. Now we’re in this hearing we don’t know. Until we find out what penalty he gets we can’t make any decision,” Hansen said.