Lions tour: Referee Romain Poite 'overthought' critical late penalty reversal, claims All Blacks coach Steve Hansen

  • 09/07/2017

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen believes referee Romain Poite "overthought" his controversial late call to revoke a kickable penalty in their third-Test draw with the British and Irish Lions.

With Owen Farrell's 78th-minute three-pointer levelling the scores at 15-15, the resulting All Blacks kick-off was knocked forward - where Welsh hooker Ken Owens, in an offside position, touched the ball.

A penalty was immediately awarded by Poite, before being walked back after consultation with his assistants and TMO George Ayoub.

Owens' touch was ruled unintentional - despite clearly making a grab at the ball - and an All Blacks attacking scrum was set, which they duly wasted as the match and series ended all square at Eden Park.

Hansen held his tongue after the match, saying simply that the referees had a tough job and that laws around offside needed simplifying.

He was slightly more forthright on Sunday.

"The more time you have to think about something, we overthink it, and in this case that's what happened. If you look at Romain's instincts, it was a penalty - and straight away, you see (Owens), he knew," Hansen said.

"They've just overthought it - if he'd trusted his instincts and gone with them, he would've made the right decision.

"I bet you he's not feeling good about that - he's a good man, Romain, and he hasn't done it deliberately. You've just got to accept it."

Despite Poite's late call, Hansen admitted his troops were still kicking themselves on Sunday after wasting a host of try-scoring chances.

The All Blacks bagged two in the first half through Ngani Laumape and Jordie Barrett, but could've scored at least three more - with Julian Savea and Beauden Barrett prime ball-dropping culprits.

It was one of the few occasions in which the Hansen-coached All Blacks have failed to nail the core rugby skills of catch and pass - with the Lions' line speed, for the most part, keeping pressure levels high.

Learning to thrive under such defensive pressure would be high on the agenda when the All Blacks reconvene for next month's Rugby Championship, minus departing regulars Aaron Cruden and Charlie Faumuina.

In a silver lining for Hansen, meanwhile, none of his troops will return to their Super Rugby franchises carrying injuries.

"We're going to get more of it. That'll force us to have to get better - we weren't as good at (combatting line speed) as we'd like to think," Hansen said.

"It's never going to be plain sailing, there's always going to be a road bump, and it's how we deal with it when it comes that's important.

"You want a few road bumps because, somewhere along the line, they're going to hit you - and if you haven't had them, you don't know how to deal with them."

NZN