Fleet St up for a game of thugby

GLEN MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 26/11/2012
Andrew Hore
Getty
PLEASE EXPLAIN: All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore chats with head coach Steve Hansen and assistant Ian Foster after the test against Wales.

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OPINION: A prediction for the week.

The All Blacks will arrive in London on the back of being called thugs, brutes, bullies, boorish and arrogant by the British press hacks, close the curtains around them, before putting England to the sword.

It's not what they deserve (the All Blacks, not England), of course, but the Empire still gets a bit miffed about the fact our little colonial outpost can turn up year after year and show just how average they play the game of rugby.

Instead of celebrating the speed and skill the All Blacks show, no matter the conditions, Fleet St will set about trying to get under the skin of the world champions.

They no doubt will, too, because as much as you try and ignore the diatribe that spills off the keyboards from the likes of Stephen Jones and co, we do tend to bite at the mere hint of criticism.

The problem is the All Blacks have brought the latest stinging stricture on themselves after Andrew Hore's ugly cleanout of Wales lock Bradley Davies, which left the second-rower unconscious on the Millennium Stadium turf.

First off, you can dismiss any suggestion from the British press that Hore is a dirty player.

Tough as teak, yes. Dirty, no.

I've seen every one of his 74 tests and can not recall any similar incidents.

Nor have I seen anything like that in the 64 times he's pulled on the amber and black jersey or more than 100 times he has turned out in Super Rugby.

If anything, it's Hore who has been on the receiving end of many a cheap shot when opposition players found out just how easy it was to make his honker bleed.

Hore will cop a four to five-game suspension for his actions.

That will rule the Highlanders' new skipper out of the first part of next year's Super Rugby competition.

He will take it on the chin, but don't be fooled into thinking he deserves more.

You could see what Hore's intention was as he rushed in to join the tackle area. He wanted to blow Davies away from the breakdown, was obviously still fired up after a rousing pre-match and got it all horribly wrong.

Reckless, foolish and not a good look, but again, you have to totally disregard the assumption made by some by the British press who claim it was deliberate to take Davies out of the test.

In fact, it's a fair bet Hore probably didn't even know who Davies was before the match.

Wales coach Warren Gatland at least brought some perspective to the incident post-match when he said you "don't usually associate the All Blacks as a side that resorts to cheap shots".

And he was right. South Africa, yes.

France, yes. England, yes. All Blacks, no.

Gatland looked a man resigned to defeat very early on.

Losing Davies and prop Aaron Jarvis before a scrum had even been packed certainly did not help Wales' cause.

But nor did Rhys Priestland bombing two gilt-edged chances to score by failing to put two penalty kicks into touch.

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What is surprising on this tour of next to no surprises is the failure of northern hemisphere teams to adapt to a style of rugby that brings consistent victories.

The All Blacks have been showing the likes of Wales and England how to use the ball for the best part of 10 years and they continue to ignore the free lessons.

It's not going to work to try to play the All Blacks' way against the All Blacks when you don't play that way most of the time.

If the likes of Wales started now, you can't help but think it would take them another five years to get to the same level and by that time the All Blacks would have found a different formula to keep smashing the teams up north.

Just a footnote on the New Zealand Maori tour.

If the itinerary was not a complete joke, then the grounds and the officials at the games were.

The portly English referees they wheeled out actually treat a yellow card as very much part of the game, not something that is reserved for a serious offence.

glenn.mclean@dailynews.co.nz

- © Fairfax NZ News

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