Rugby Union: Verbal battle between Smith and Hart

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The Independent Online
A public slanging match broke out yesterday between the Australian and New Zealand coaches before today's sell-out Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Australia's Greg Smith repeated his claim that the All Blacks had used blatant fouls during their 30-13 win in the first match of the three-match Bledisloe Cup series a fortnight ago.

"We weren't able to get the points because of the continual infringements and I don't think it's good for our game," Smith said. "I think the players got sick of what was going on and it had become farcical at the end."

Smith was highly critical of the performance by the referee Ed Morrison, but said he was satisfied with the outcome of a meeting with Morrison on Thursday.

Hart was already in a bad mood because he had only a week to prepare after their 35-32 win over South Africa in the opening match of the Tri- Nations.

"He [Smith] has told his team that if there were any illegal tactics or professional fouls he would expect the players to take the matter into their own hands," Hart said.

"And if that meant that an all-in brawl was necessary from the Wallabies, then he would accept that, and if that meant an Australian was to be sent off, then he would accept that."

AUSTRALIA (v New Zealand, Melbourne Cricket Ground, 11.0 BST): M Burke; B Tune, J Little, J Holbeck, J Roff; T Horan, G Gregan; A Heath, M Foley, R Harry, G Morgan, J Eales (capt), D Manu, M Brial, B Robinson.

NEW ZEALAND: C Cullen; J Wilson, F Bunce, A Ieremia, G Osborne; C Spencer, J Marshall; C Dowd, S Fitzpatrick (capt; or N Hewitt), O Brown, I Jones, R Brooke, T Randell, Z Brooke, J Kronfeld.

Referee: E Morrison (Eng).