Andrew Hore can pack his bags for home
Citing and suspension look certainTOBY ROBSON
Was Andrew Hore's action a cheap shot and does he deserve a long ban?
Andrew Hore's citing and suspension is as certain as the hostile reaction that surely awaits the banged up All Blacks when they arrive in London today.
The hooker's king hit on Wales lock Bradley Davies has overshadowed the growing injury concerns facing coach Steve Hansen's squad ahead of their season finale against England at Twickenham.
Crusader first five-eighth Tom Taylor and New Zealand Maori rake Hika Elliot joined the squad today as cover for Dan Carter (Achilles), Keven Mealamu (calf), and Hore, who faces a likely suspension.
Throw in more minor concerns over prop Tony Woodcock (hip), and backs Beauden Barrett (ribs), and Aaron Cruden (leg cramps) and suddenly the final hurdle for 2012 looks a little tricky.
More so thanks to Hore, who has become a YouTube sensation and British media punching bag since his brain fade at Millennium Stadium.
The All Blacks are already seen by many Englishman as being as arrogant as they are invincible and the press mob now have their pitchforks.
No 8 Kieran Read is banking on a difficult week on and off the pitch.
"I guess they [the English press] will probably be coming pretty hard at us, that's always the way," he said. "We'll have to just take what happened and go through the right process."
On the playing front, Hore's absence seems likely based on video evidence. The IRB's recommended sanctions for striking a player's start at 2 weeks, with five the mid range and eight plus the top end.
Combined with Mealamu's aging calfs, the situation could further fast track the budding test career of Coles, who got his third cap against Wales.
"If it has to happen we'll be comfortable," Hansen said. "He's a young man who has come on the tour and done everything he's needed to do. He's been great off the park, he's fitted in and he's wanted to learn.
"When he's been on the park he's performed well and gotten better and better with a lot of his work.
"It's a little like losing DC and having to put Aaron [Cruden] in. I know Aaron's had more games [than Coles] but the expectation is when you pull the jersey on you have to play,
"We don't need him to be Andrew Hore, or Keven Mealamu, we just need him to be him and everyone around him has to do a bit more."
Hansen didn't seem overly concerned about Hore's certain date with the IRB judiciary and senior players were quick to say it would not interfere with their preparation.
However, Hansen's mood may darken this week should Hore's actions take the gloss off a memorable and, thus far, unbeaten season.
It is an embarrassing situation for the New Zealand Rugby Union with chief executive Steve Tew spending much of the past three weeks in Europe extolling the virtues of the All Blacks' brand.
Whatever the build up holds, Hansen believes England present a genuine threat to his side having a relaxing summer, though he noted their losses to Australia (20-14) last week and yesterday to South Africa (16-15).
"They could have won the game and if you look at the Aussie game they could have won that too and they'd be sitting there with a perfect record waiting for us," Hansen said. "Unfortunately for us they're not because they will be even more determined."
Hansen gave a glowing assessment of the All Blacks win over Wales saying the first 60 minutes was a "ten out of ten".
However, considering what Hore did in the second minute, the perfect rating needs to be revised and it's a safe bet the English will not spend long talking about the 78 that followed.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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