Gregor Paul

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

All Blacks: Hore hit reinforces thugs image

It is not the All Black way to leave their own to hang out to dry, an attitude for which Andrew Hore should be eternally grateful.

His act of stupidity - his needless and unfathomably crass stiff arm administered to the unsuspecting Bradley Davies - will have confirmed in every Northern Hemisphere mind the long held notion of the All Blacks as perennial thugs.

The Adam Thomson saga was trying for the All Blacks: not just for the futility and frustration of the drawn-out process but because there was depth to the sub-plot that the All Blacks are viewed as villains in this part of the world.

All Blacks: Hore cited for hit

When the All Blacks come to Europe they can't escape their past: historical atrocities have been committed and the Brits have incredibly long memories and an insatiable capacity for grudge-keeping.

The media outrage in the aftermath of the Thomson incident and the consequent wrath expressed at the supposed lenient judicial finding was testament to the prevailing perception - that the All Blacks, for all their colossal talent, still like to work as much with the bludgeon as they do the rapier.

In fighting as hard as they did for justice, the All Blacks were making the point that it was not only correct in that individual case, but that they have shed their inglorious past and are not the unsmiling, jackboot wearing lugs they once were or were at least seen to be.

If any mileage was made in the changing impressions of the All Blacks during the Thomson case, then Hore has dragged them back. In one daft moment he has vindicated the Brits; provided clarity and substance to their vision of the All Blacks as thugs and bullies.

No doubt the Welsh, who managed to whip themselves into an ugly frenzy three years ago over a supremely tame high tackle by Daniel Carter, will find reason to compare Hore's blow with the one administered by John Ashworth on JPR Williams at Bridgend. The Andy Haden lineout nonsense of 1978 will be trotted out in support of denigrating the All Blacks and portraying them in a most unflattering light.

The English, too, will find ways to keep the pot boiling and the maddening thing for the All Blacks will be that Hore is essentially now in an indefensible position, which is why All Black coach Steve Hansen used the standard "need to have another look" in the immediate aftermath of the game while he still could.

"To be honest, all we have seen is the one replay of it and he looks like he is going in to clean out the Welshman in front of him," said All Black coach Steve Hansen. "He looked like he went to get him out of the way and clearly something has happened during that.

"Until I see it properly I can't really say ... but it is unfortunate it has happened."

But he knows the book is going to be hurled and that Hore will have to stand and take it. All they can hope for is leniency in the sentence rather than exoneration but they can all but kiss goodbye to that as after the Thomson case, the IRB will be hyper conscious of handing down a sentence they will feel is indisputably tough.

Wales coach Warren Gatland said it didn't look the best in the world.

"You don't usually associate the All Blacks as a side that resorts to cheap shots. I hope that's not the case. I hope it's just an accident."

•Canterbury's Tom Taylor has been called into the All Blacks as cover for their final test of the year against England on Sunday (NZT).

New Zealand Maori hooker Hika Elliot has also been called into the squad as coach Steve Hansen prepares for a Hore suspension.

- NZ Herald

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