WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino has rejected claims he tried to injure British and Irish Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray by diving at his legs during the first rugby test at Eden Park on Saturday.
Video has circulated on social media which shows Kaino apparently throwing himself at Murray as the Ireland scrumhalf kicks the ball in the 10th minute of the match which was won 30-15 by New Zealand.
Lions coach Warren Gatland on Monday accused the All Blacks of targeting the legs of Lions players, especially Murray, when they attempted to charge down kicks during the Auckland test.
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Gatland didn’t mention Kaino by name but said ”it’s a little bit tough when you see someone dive at someone’s leg.
”You feel for the player and it’s concerning that they’re not trying to charge the kick down because they’re nowhere near it. They’re diving blindly and hitting someone’s leg.”
Kaino told reporters in Wellington on Tuesday that he had no intention of attempting to hurt Murray or any other player. He said the contentious video had ”popped up on my Twitter feed about a million times so it’s hard to avoid it.
”It’s never our intent to go out and injure someone outside the laws. We play hard and we play fair but that incident was a one-off and it’s never our intention to single anyone out.
”(Murray) is very quick to get ball to foot and maybe there was a bit of timing there. But what’s been said out there about malice and intention to hurt anyone, that’s never the case.
”I guess people have their opinions on it and all I can say is it wasn’t my intention to go out there and target his planted foot. It’s never nice when you have things done to you outside the laws. The way we do things is within the spirit of the game.”