New Zealand coach Steve Hansen. Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has accused British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland of ‘bullying’ referee Jaco Peyper ahead of Saturday's opening Test.

Gatland has voiced concerns about the All Blacks using illegal blocking to stop Lions players competing for the ball in the air.

The claims of cheating increased tension between the two camps and Hansen claimed the attempts to influence the referee are unfair.

"If I talk to the media about it then I am applying pressure and that is comparable to bullying him, so I don’t want to do that," said Hansen, when asked if he would voice any of his own concerns.

"I’ll just quietly talk to him and there are certain areas we will talk about. Have we got concerns? We just want the referee to referee the way they said they would in March and to be consistent.

"Will there be mistakes? Yes, because they are human, just like both teams will make mistakes. There is no point trying to bully the referees publicly in the media. We will talk about it in private and he will get his interpretations across of what he wants."

Hansen, who laughed off Gatland’s claims that he is "worried", added that blocking is a widespread problem.

"The referee has got the hardest job in the world," said Hansen. "With blocking, the rule says that as long as you don’t change your direction of running then you are entitled to run back and help your team-mate.

"That is the key. If you run five metres to get in front of someone then you are dumb. That is dopey and in that case, Gats is quite right.

"It happens every week. If you look at the Samoa game then it happened to us and I am sure if Warren is willing and able to look closely at his own team, they have been doing it, too."

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