Warren Gatland has come under a disgraceful media attack after he stated that he thought Connor Murray had been deliberately targeted illegally by the All Blacks.
One tackle by Jerome Kaino appears to be the focus of his complaints
A short video of the actual tackle in question is in the link below and to be honest it is inconclusive as to whether it was deliberate or merely poor timing. Based on that you have to give Kaino the benefit of the doubt.
However the acerbic vitriol from the NZ media is unwarranted – and the disrespectful caricature of the Lions coach is akin to football journalism and demeans the media more than Gatland. They have form for this having done a similar character assassination on Michael Chieka.
They don’t even have the wit or creativity to change the visual – at least the Sun was more witty when they lampooned (again unfairly) the late Graham Taylor.
I doubt Gatland will mind – his probable strategy was to highlight to the officials that this might be happening – those in charge on Saturday will have taken note. A case of ‘the jury will disregard’ or ‘deny everything!’
This is the same media that decried the Lions ‘whinging’ over the tackle on O’Driscoll in 2005 insisting that there was absolutely no case to answer.
At least one journalist in NZ (Gregor Paul) has the courage to dispute this –
History has a priceless capacity to repeat, especially, it seems, when it comes to Lions tours to New Zealand.
In the last few days, it has been hard to remember whether it is 2005 or 2017. It has felt like 2005 all over again with the conduct of the All Blacks having incensed the British Lions coach and trial by media having ensued.
That was the scenario 12 years ago after the first test. The Lions were angry that an obvious act of foul play by the All Blacks had gone unpunished.
Their rage was understandable and justified – the incident just 42 seconds into the test ruled Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll out of the series with a dislocated shoulder.
The fact Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu escaped any censure remains a blight on rugby officialdom and whether that was pivotal in shaping the series or not, it didn’t rob the Lions of their right to feel aggrieved in those first few days after the first test.
It will be interesting to see if Connor Murray gets any late hits in Wellington – I suspect not – in which case Gatland will have won that small battle.