New Zealand boss Steve Hansen has accused South Africa counterpart Rassie Erasmus of trying to pressurise referees into preferential treatment towards the Springboks.
Back-to-back reigning world champions New Zealand will launch the defence of the Webb Ellis Cup by taking on South Africa in Yokohama on Saturday.
Springboks head coach Erasmus this week insisted New Zealand have for years received soft officiating as referees entered matches with the “preconceived idea” that the All Blacks would win.
A frustrated but as ever phlegmatic Hansen offered a withering assessment of Erasmus’s comments, hoping that French official Jerome Garces will not be swayed by the Springbok influence.
“It’s pretty obvious what they are trying to do; whilst I have a lot of respect for South Africa and Rassie, I don’t agree with what he’s doing,” said Hansen.
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“He’s trying to put pressure on the referees externally, and they are under enough pressure already. They don’t need coaches to be doing what he’s doing.
“It doesn’t matter who is the ref, as a coach or as a team,,,,, you can always find things after a game that they didn’t do and you can get emotional about it and think they are taking it out on you and not the opposition. We’ve done it ourselves.
“But at the end of the day, they go out to do the best they can do.
“Yes, they don’t get it right all they time, and we’ve suffered from that. But it’s just like other teams. It’s a big game and we just need to let the referee get on with it.”
Asked if he would hope the World Cup officials are strong-willed enough to ignore any such influence, Hansen added: “Well they are not stupid people at all, so you’d like to hope so. That’s all I can say about that really.”News Now - Sport News