Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: All Blacks reaping reluctant praise amid vilification

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All sorts of damning praise is leaching from the British media.

They can't help themselves. They are forced to concede the might and style of sides south of the equator, especially the All Blacks, while forging on with barrages of disgust about their dirty play.

Andrew Hore is the latest target while Adam Thomson's stupid head scrape remains a handy backup.

Howls have come about the All Blacks' lack of remorse or acceptance of Hore's reckless clobbering of Welsh lock Bradley Davies. It was a fierce hit and you'd guess it will send Hore to the naughty chair for some time.

Davies was running interference across Hore's line and was thumped with a roundhouse clout. Hore will be banned.

Somehow the Lord Nelson media brigade in Britain then paint Hore and Thomson's acts of foul play as endemic within the All Blacks.

This season five All Blacks have been sin binned in their 13 tests. Not great but none could be classed as vicious or as malicious until Hore's as-yet-unpunished brain snap.

Fullback Israel Dagg has been shown yellow twice for an illegal mid-air tackle and entering a ruck from the side, Brodie Retallick earned one post-match for a dangerous tackle, Tony Woodcock for repeated ruck infringements, Thomson for his bootwork and Cory Jane for an illegal knockdown. To somehow suggest that list, especially with Thomson and Hore's foul play in close succession, means the All Blacks are filthy to their core is pushing the boat out even for the Brits.

This year England have had squad members punished for deeds on and off the track.

Flanker Calum Clark received 32 weeks for breaking an opponent's arm but the memory of that seems to have disappeared. Halfback Ben Youngs got a week for striking, buddy Danny Care had misconduct charges off the field, Chris Ashton was banned after picking up three yellow cards for foul play and Dylan Hartley was nailed eight weeks for biting Irish forward Stephen Ferris.

England forwards coach Graham Rowntree was still defensive after Hartley's verdict.

"It is unfortunate for Dylan and Northampton especially as he was in good form during the Six Nations and he has developed as a player and leader."

Precious little contrition there, while the British scribes wanted that from the All Blacks before Hore's hearing.

And if they want to just cast their minds back only to last year's World Cup, they'll recall Courtney Lawes' ban for "recklessly striking" Pumas hooker Mario Ledesma with his knees.

Not to be outdone England officials Dave Alred and Paul Stridgeon were banned for switching balls during the game against Romania.

Off the track misconduct charges were filed against captain Mike Tindall for his Queenstown antics, James Haskell and Ashton were fined after filming a Dunedin waitress and then Manu Tuilagi jumped off an Auckland ferry.

Soon after the team got home, Lawes and Delon Armitage were both sinbinned for dangerous high tackles in the premiership.

Selective memories? Maybe. Fear and loathing? Probably, because there is no side in world rugby that teams want to beat more than England.

- NZ Herald

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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