Kaino sidesteps blocking accusations

Date published: June 19 2017

New Zealand flanker Jerome Kaino refused to be drawn into a debate over perceived illegal tactics used by the two-time world champions.

British and Irish Lions boss Warren Gatland reckons the All Blacks use illegal blockers to protect their players fielding high kicks and raised the topic after the Lions’ impressive 32-10 win over the Maori All Blacks in Rotorua on Saturday.

“The frustrating thing is the amount of blocking that’s going on, it makes it difficult to complete attacking opportunities because there is so much happening off the ball in terms of holding players or subtly holding players,” said Gatland.

“Because it was picked up on a couple of occasions on Saturday night, they stopped doing it as much. In a couple of games we haven’t been able to get up in the air [and compete] because there has been that interference.”

But Kaino did not take the bait when he was asked for his opinion on Gatland’s accusations.

“We can’t go in worrying about what the referee is going to rule on how we play the game,” the 34-year-old told Fairfax Media.

“Within the 80 minutes it’s about how fast we adapt and adjust to whatever style they bring, or how they are ruling on certain things.

“We have a game we want to play and we try to play that as well as we can. Refs have different interpretations and the team that adapts the best is probably going to come out on top.”

Kaino was also asked if there was a fine line between legally and illegally protecting a team-mate who is about to gather a high ball and replied: “I don’t think it’s just New Zealand teams.

“Every team plays to fine margins in the rules. If you can play to those and protect your jumper as much as you can, as long as you are within the rules, I don’t think there is any problem.”

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