All Blacks take aim at Wallaby 'fan' Kafer
The All Blacks have slammed Wallabies back Rod Kafer – the fan-come-commentator – for declaring Australian captain Michael Hooper was the target of deliberate foul play in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Perth.
Assistant coach Ian Foster called on Kafer to contemplate his remarks in the wake of Australia’s 47-26 win, a match influenced by the red card shown to lock Scott Barrett.
Kafer opined that Barrett’s shoulder to the head of Hooper was intentional and part of a wider New Zealand plan to rattle the home team’s skipper.
Earlier in the game, All Blacks flank Ardie Savea had pushed Hooper’s head into the ground after the whistle to cost him a penalty.
It sparked memories of how the Wallabies would seemingly employ niggling tactics against influential former New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw.
Kafer said it went too far with Barrett.
“This was a deliberate act, attacking a player’s head with a shoulder and elbow in a vulnerable position,” he told Fox Sports.
“You go into games trying to unsettle the leaders of an opposition team, it’s pretty standard.”
Veteran All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock said he found the comments hurtful, while Foster was equally adamant that Barrett’s act wasn’t intentional.
“The answer’s no, it wasn’t. Rod’s a very smart man, I’m a little bit surprised he said it,” Foster said.
“They can say what they like, it doesn’t change the truth.
“I’m sure Rod will sit down one night and have a cup of tea and think to himself that that wasn’t quite the truth after all.”
Claim and counter-claim over foul play have marked the days since the boilover result.
The All Blacks were reportedly unhappy at Australian players routinely employing “neck rolls” at the breakdown and would demand it be monitored by match officials in Saturday’s second Test at Eden Park.
The New Zealand Herald claimed to have counted 14 incidents of neck rolls, a potentially dangerous way of clearing defenders to win quick ball.
The allegation comes a year after the Wallabies accused the All Blacks of the same tactic in Auckland, resulting in a significant neck injury to star flank David Pocock.
Foster wouldn’t push the issue on Tuesday, believing New Zealand are in no position to claim the moral high ground after Barrett’s red card and subsequent three-week ban.
“There’s no point in us highlighting anything else. We’ve been found guilty of something. We’ll take our medicine on that,” he said.
Foster said finding the balance between physicality and foul play is a challenge in every Test and the Wallabies got it right in Perth.
“So, forget about all the other things, who might have done what and all that sort of stuff, we lost the physical battle and we have to be better than that.”
At the centre of a changed All Blacks tactical option in the loose, flank Sam Cane said it had been difficult to make a judgment on its worth in the face of Australia’s assault in the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Perth at the weekend.
Faced with having to deal with the onslaught that resulted in a record 47-26 win for the Australians, it was only afterwards that Cane and others were aware they were on the end of dubious tactics that went unchecked by the refereeing team.
Viewing game footage had clarified why the All Blacks had been unable to have an effect at the breakdown.
“There were times when you get over the ball and you feel like you almost know ‘I’m in a good position here’ and then for whatever reason you get taken off it.
“Sometimes it’s because guys come blatantly in through the side and sometimes it’s those neck rolls.
“To be honest. I don’t know if there’s much you can do during the game. If you notice it and bring it up with the skipper he can try and bring it to their [the referees’] attention,” he said.