Henry's comments dismissed by Crusaders
Graham Henry's rant has been dismissed with a collection of wry smiles but the injury Owen Franks suffered at the All Blacks wider training group camp is no laughing matter.
Despite Blues defence coach Henry wading into the officials and Crusaders - the tirade included a dig at loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett - following last weekend's 23-3 defeat, Todd Blackadder and his men kept the unfriendly fire to a minimum ahead of tomorrow night's Super Rugby match against the Chiefs.
While there can be little doubt the Crusaders, Crockett especially, will have been privately irked by Henry's comments, they did their best not to fuel the controversy last night.
Crusaders coach Blackadder noted some of Henry's comments were delivered tongue-in-cheek but questioned his timing.
"Those things should just be done behind the scenes. If you are going to have a go at officials it is usually because you are frustrated. It can bring the game into disrepute at times. Sounding-off publicly about referees can do some damage to the game."
Crockett, who made his test debut under Henry in 2009, must have been annoyed but remained mellow. This was despite his ex-All Blacks coach stating he "got away with murder." in the scrums.
"I certainly didn't murder anyone, I can tell you that much," Crockett said. "He had a crack at me but I can take it. I'm a big man. I have got a couple of people who I trust and really listen to. 'Ted' is not actually one of those, so I'm not too worried about what he says."
Henry's attack on the officials and Crusaders was withering.
He stated TMO Keith Brown was "blind", that the Crusaders were often offside, "didn't look like scoring' outside their tries off a charge-down and a driving maul and it was "bullshit" for Culum Retallick to get yellow carded for knocking down a pass.
"It's someone who is obviously a little bit frustrated by the way things have been going," Crusaders captain Kieran Read stated.
However, Crusaders head coach Blackadder has bigger problems to concern him than the ramblings of an irate Henry.
Tighthead prop Franks has returned from the All Blacks' wider training group's three-day training camp with a strained hamstring and is in doubt for this crucial match.
Franks will have a fitness test before the squad flys to Hamilton today.
If he is ruled out, Crockett will switch to the unfamiliar tighthead role at Waikato Stadium and Joe Moody will start at loosehead. Nepo Laulala will be added to the bench.
"He could be doubtful," Blackadder confirmed. "It is what it is. You just have to make the best of the situation."
The Chiefs have also been affected by the camp. Prop Ben Afeaki has been scratched after he tweaked his calf.
Although the All Blacks staged no full-contact trainings, and their cheerleaders repeatedly promoted the camps as being a non-issue for Super Rugby teams, the injuries to Franks and Afeaki ahead of such a crucial match highlights the folly of such lectures.
Meanwhile, Sanzar last night had still not declared whether they will censure Henry for his comments.
Sanzar boss Greg Peters told The Press his outbursts were being "considered by Sanzar as part of an established process for dealing with such matters".
TMO Keith Brown and New Zealand Rugby Union referees boss Rod Hill would not comment.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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