Steve Hansen denied former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick’s claim that “scuffles” have broken out in New Zealand’s training sessions this week, with tensions appearing to be on the rise ahead of this Saturday’s series decider against the British and Irish Lions.
Fitzpatrick claims that he has spoken to players who told him that there have been moments this week when tensions between players boiled over, leading to small arguments between the teammates.
Hansen rejected these claims though, and stressed on Thursday that he has not seen anything of the sort.
"Yeah, I read that one,” Hansen said when asked about the reports. “I don't know where it came from. I've read a few things this morning that have just come out of nowhere, and that's one of them. There were no fights at training.”
Fitzpatrick was New Zealand captain the last time that the Lions beat the All Blacks, in the second Test in 1993, but he was able to guide the side to a series-clinching victory in the third Test. Having seen first-hand what it takes in training to beat the Lions, Fitzpatrick claimed that the reports of intra-squad scrapping were not necessarily a bad thing.
"I know what the atmosphere will be like in the camp and all those people in New Zealand that wanted it at 1-1, now expect the All Blacks to win, so that'll raise the tension within the camp," Fitpatrick told Sky Sports this week.
"They won't need to do much this week. I've spoken to a couple of the guys, the tension is quite high. There's been a couple of little scuffles at training, which is a good sign.
"But they are under a little bit of pressure, for the first time in a long while actually."
Hansen’s opposite number, Warren Gatland, did confirm that Thursday’s training session was one of the more “tasty” ones that he has had to take charge of, with the players showing plenty of niggle in contact with a few “verbals” exchanged, although he stressed that is a good sign ahead of the third Test this Saturday.
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