Henry says 'Boks feigned injuries to slow game down

AFP , WELLINGTON

Mon, Jul 24, 2006 - Page 19

New Zealand called for referees to take a tough line on stoppages in rugby internationals after accusing South Africa of faking injuries to slow down play in their Tri-Nations Test in Wellington on Saturday.

A grim All Blacks coach Graham Henry was not happy with the manner of his side's 35-17 win, and believed the defending champions could have performed better if the match was not such a stop-start affair.

"The only thing that frustrates me is the number of times people go down with injury. That makes the game difficult, and I'd like to see the referees more diligent about that so that the game flows a lot more," he said.

Asked if he was accusing the Springboks of feigning injuries to slow the All Blacks' momentum, Henry was initially non-specific.

"I just think the game is being slowed down. It slowed down in the Super 14 and if you look at the stats you'll find that some countries slow the game down more than others and that's frustrating. So I think the game is being slowed down on purpose, yes," he said.

But he later made clear that his comments were aimed at South Africa.

"I think [the All Blacks] felt a bit frustrated out there because there wasn't a lot of rugby played at times because the game was slowed down a lot," he said.

All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen argued that a match should only be stopped for injuries in exceptional circumstances, such as in a scrum when a front rower was involved.

The Test match statistics showed eight injury stoppages, five for Springboks, two for All Blacks and one for a player on each side.

South Africa coach Jake White said there was no faking the knocks his players took in their second consecutive loss of the championship.

"We've got a couple of injuries in the changing room and they all look as though they're really serious so I don't think he means us," White said of Henry.

"Sure, it's a tactic in rugby, you've just got to watch Super 14 and there's a lot of teams that slow the game down, but a lot of our guys were injured and when we were lying down it was because some of our guys copped it a bit," he said.

Henry, who made eight changes to the All Blacks side which beat Australia, did not blame the Springboks entirely for a less than convincing performance from his side who gifted the visitors a try from the kick-off.

"That wasn't a great start and we had to claw our way back. So I'm pleased the way the guys kept their composure, and didn't let that situation get to them, that showed a lot of maturity," he said.

"But we're not happy with the way we played, I think the boys are a bit disappointed with the way they played the game and so they should be," he said.

New Zealand and South Africa now head to Australia where they will play the Wallabies over the next two weekends.

After two games each, the All Blacks lead the standings with nine points followed by Australia on five and South Africa with none.