Henry refuses to take De Villiers seriously
July 24, 2010

New Zealand boss Graham Henry has shrugged off Peter de Villiers' claim that referees are currently favouring the All Blacks, revealing that he doesn't take anything his South African counterpart says seriously.

De Villiers suggested during an interview with Australian television that the Kiwis are receiving preferential treatment from match officials because the powers that be want a winning All Blacks side ahead of next year's World Cup, which, of course, is being staged in New Zealand.

The outspoken Springbok head coach, who is no stranger to controversy, cited the refereeing in his side's two most recent clashes with the All Blacks, in Auckland a fortnight ago and in Wellington last weekend, as evidence of this alleged favouritism.

However, Henry is adamant that de Villiers has no grounds for complaint. ''I can't really take anything he (De Villiers) says seriously,'' the former Lions boss is quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

''The penalty count in the two matches was in favour of South Africa. I appreciate they had a couple of yellow cards; one was very warranted and the other questionable. But I don't want to get into it too deeply for the reason I just outlined.''

Henry also claimed that if anybody was guilty of breaking the rules in last weekend's encounter, it was the Springbok front-rowers, whom he alleged repeatedly bored into their Kiwi counterparts at scrum time.

'It is part of the South African game,'' Henry said. ''It is what they do all the time. It is what they do in the Currie Cup and it seems to be an acceptable part of their game. But I think it is outside the law. OK, it wasn't as bad as it was in some other Tests. But it is still part of the deal.''

The scrum is an area in which New Zealand are expected to reign supreme in next weekend's pivotal clash with Australia in Melbourne, given that the Wallabies were badly exposed in the set-piece by England last month. However, Henry is not so sure.

'They scrummed very well last year in the Tri-Nations,'' he said. ''Obviously this year they have had their issues with injuries leading into the Tri Nations … but they have got two of their senior front-rowers back so that should make a difference.''


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