WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland defended lock Iain Henderson on Tuesday, saying the yellow card against him was too harsh and played a part in his team’s collapse at the end of a 31-31 draw against Hurricanes.
The Lions led by 16 points at halftime, but Henderson was sent to the sin-bin in the 65th minute for a dangerous lifting tackle on Hurricanes fullback Jordie Barrett.
In a testy post-match news conference, Gatland was reminded of his claim earlier in the week that the All Blacks intentionally sought to injure Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray during Saturday’s first test in Auckland.
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”Today I didn’t think there was any malice in terms of Iain Henderson lifting Jordie Barrett. He was just trying to clear out his man and the officials have made the decision to give him a yellow card,” Gatland said.
Gatland was also asked about a cartoon that appeared in an Auckland newspaper on Monday depicting him as a clown. The newspaper had been widely criticized for publishing a similar cartoon of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika prior to a Bledisloe Cup test last year.
Gatland said he was unaware of the cartoon but had been surprised that All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had called a sports radio station to reply to his complaint about the New Zealand tactics.
”As a Kiwi, I thought I’d come home and things would be a little bit more positive,” he said. ”From one or two members of the media that hasn’t happened.
”I can’t let that get to me. You have to take it on the chin and not be affected by it,” Gatland added. ”There have been one or two people who have run a quite significant campaign against me personally and that’s disappointing.”