All Blacks not fazed by ongoing tackling debacle – 'if there’s nothing there, leave it there'

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has compared head injuries in rugby union to a car crash, believing sometimes they're simply nobody's fault.

Hansen found himself once again defending his team's discipline as they build towards the second Test against France in Wellington.

Questions about the skull fracture suffered by French winger Remy Grosso in the first Test in Auckland riled Hansen on Thursday.

He has maintained his forwards Sam Cane and Ofa Tu'ungafasi were unlucky to connect with the head in a double tackle which earned nothing more than penalty.

Cries that at least one of the players should have been cited have come from as high as World Rugby vice-president Augustin Pichot.

Others have claimed New Zealand are treated leniently by referees because of their aura as the world's premier team.

Hansen said officials had got the Grosso decision right, pointing to the dynamic nature of a sport in which some injuries are unavoidable.

"Sometimes when you drive your car at the right speed limit and then a little kid runs right out in front of you, is it the kid's fault or your fault?" Hansen asked journalists.

"In our game things are fluid and they change and you can't stop something that you've committed to and someone's angle changes.

"We have to accept there are going to be some head knocks."

Cane isn't flustered by all the discussion either.

"It's easy when you look at it on a computer when they slow the camera down, you go, 'tap tap, look. he could have done that'. When you put it back to full speed, we're talking 'bang!'

"They go to the TMO. If there's nothing there, they go to the citing comissioner - hes got a job, if there's nothing there, lets leave it there."

Hansen said top flight players all have a duty of care to keep tackles down and to make sure they don't make the "dumb ones".

Meanwhile, the veteran coach offered a wry smile when asked to comment on a World Rugby statement released more than three days after the Eden Park Test.

The statement issued a "warning" to Tu'ungafasi.

"Not surprised. It takes a wee while for things to get over there. They're a long way away," Hansen said.

Sam Cane has been the subject of pundits after his hit on Remy Grosso, but he isn’t worried. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: SBW, Rieko Ioane face-off in hilarious All Blacks shadow-boxing drill

The All Blacks take preparing for the second Test against France seriously, but that doesn't mean there isn't time to have a little bit of fun at trainings.

The team wrapped up training at Westpac Stadium in Wellington today with a series of warm-down drills, one of which saw players face-off against each other in a shadow-boxing session where the objective was to slap your opponent.

Blues stars Sonny Bill Williams and Rieko Ioane ended up paired together and despite the light-hearted nature of the drill, appeared to take the task seriously as they channelled their inner boxers to duck and weave while looking for an opening.

The All Blacks winger looked a little worse for wear after Saturday's incident. Source: 1 NEWS

Ioane was luckier this time round though, not sporting any black eyes from going toe-to-toe with Williams unlike after the bust-up he had with another Blues player before joining the All Blacks in Auckland.

Ioane has been named to start again this weekend after playing at No.11 in the All Blacks' 52-11 win over France at Eden Park last week, while Williams is continuing to recover from the minor knee surgery he had two weeks ago.

Saturday's second Test against France kicks off at 7:30pm in Wellington.

The pair of Blues stars tried to get a cheeky slap in on their rival. Source: 1 NEWS


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France make five changes to starting side for second Test against All Blacks

France have pinned their hopes on club form after announcing five changes to their starting team for the second Test against the All Blacks.

Coach Jacques Brunel deemed the three players involved in the Top 14 club final on June 2 would be off limits for last week's first Test in Auckland, which the tourists lost 52-11.

All three slot straight into his XV on Saturday at Westpac Stadium, including both flankers.

Read more: All Blacks name unchanged team for second Test against France in Wellington

Victorious Castres forward Mathieu Babillot and beaten Montpellier counterpart Kelian Galletier have replaced Fabien Sanconnie and Judicael Cancoriet on the side of the scrum.

Montpellier fullback Benjamin Fall usurps veteran Maxime Medard at fullback.

The two players involved in contentious moments at Eden Park have both made way.

Remy Grosso suffered a fractured skull when hit high in a double-tackle from Sam Cane and Ofa Tu'ungafasi that didn't result in any punishment beyond a penalty, sparking heated debate.

Grosso, who has been given medical clearance to fly home tody, is replaced by Gael Fickou.

Lock Paul Gabrillagues, who was considered unlucky to receive a yellow card for a relatively mild high tackle, is on the reserves bench. His starting spot goes to South African-born Bernard Le Roux.

Two players introduced to the bench are front-rowers Pierre Bourgarit and Cedate Gomes Sa.

Hooker Bourgarit, 20, is in line for a Test debut.

FRANCE: Benjamin Fall, Teddy Thomas, Mathieu Bastareaud (capt), Geoffrey Doumayrou, Gael Fickou, Anthony Belleau, Morgan Parra, Kevin Gourdon, Kelian Galletier, Mathieu Babillot, Yoann Maestri, Bernard Le Roux, Uini Atonio, Camille Chat, Dany Priso. Res: Pierre Bourgarit, Cyril Baille, Cedate Gomes Sa, Paul Gabrillagues, Alexandre Lapandry, Baptiste Serin, Jules Plisson, Maxime Medard.

Dejected French players. Steinlager Series First Test, All Blacks vs France, Rugby Union Test Match Eden Park, Auckland. 09 June 2018. Copyright Image: Renee McKay / www.photosport.nz
France will be aim to bounce back from the defeat at Eden Park. Source: Photosport


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