Dublin – Steve Hansen, the All Blacks coach, conceded on Thursday that New Zealand are embarrassed by Andrew Hore's assault on Bradley Davies and understand the disapproval around the length of his ban.
Hore was suspended for five weeks on Wednesday for striking Davies from behind in an attack that left the Wales second row with concussion.
The ban means the Highlanders hooker will miss only two competitive matches – the first against England on Saturday – with provincial pre-season games accounting for the other three. The International Rugby Board's judicial officer has been criticised for the leniency of the decision and Hansen sympathises.
“You don't want to see that in the game. Andrew was embarrassed, we were embarrassed. Our thoughts were with Bradley Davies,” he said. “I understand the issue with pre- season games being included and can see that being quite frustrating, but we live within the rules that are set by the IRB.
“Although we might say they're only pre-season games, [Highlanders coach] Jamie Joseph might not say the same thing. Do we agree with it? Probably not, but it's there.”
Davies was knocked out by Hore's swinging forearm and will miss Saturday's match against Australia. Rob Howley, Wales' assistant coach, branded the 34-year-old “an absolute disgrace” and Hansen condemned an incident that he insisted was out of character.
“We don't want to see that in the game and, although we love Andrew, we didn't love what he did,” Hansen said. “The intent was to do something else but he got it drastically wrong. As a result, he hit the man on the chin and knocked him out. Andrew has played 300 first-class games and not made that mistake before, so he's not a dirty player.
“But in this instance he's made a poor decision and has paid for it. Our group has a zero-tolerance approach to foul play, we're not a dirty side.
“For me it's about taking responsibility, whether it's an accident or not, and we've done that in this case. We hope people will accept that and I know Bradley Davies has from his conversations with Andrew.” – The Independent