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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 06:07 GMT 07:07 UK
Henry defends duo over O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll receives treatment for his injured shoulder
All Blacks coach Graham Henry has insisted his players did not intend to injure Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll in last week's first Test.

O'Driscoll dislocated his shoulder after an incident involving New Zealand captain Tana Umaga and Kevin Mealamu.

"Brian's a top player and a top person and we've a lot of sympathy," he said.

"But there's no way that All Blacks players go out to maim the opposition. They never have done and they don't do it now. It's not part of team policy."

Umaga and Mealamu appeared to spear tackle O'Driscoll into the ground in the process of clearing out a ruck.

O'Driscoll and Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward have both been incensed by the lack of action against the All Black pair, and have voiced their feelings at several news conferences.

Henry accused the Lions of a "media spin" campaign by using O'Driscoll's injury to overshadow a poor performance in the first Test.

Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward addresses the media at a news conferences to highlight O'Driscoll's injury
Woodward convened a news conference to highlight the injury
"The Lions' spin doctors have worked overtime to try to take attention away from the game which is disappointing," said Henry.

"I think we just need to move on.

"We have got high standards and we emphasise those things. There is no way that any player in the All Blacks went out to deliberately injure a player at the weekend.

"I just think that we are getting caught up with something that has happened in the past.

"Both Tana Umaga and myself mentioned Brian O'Driscoll in the press conference after the Test match last week.

"We said how disappointed we were and how we felt for him. That has not changed."

Umaga has been kept out of the media spotlight, and was not present at the news conference to announce the All Blacks team for the second Test in which both he and Mealamu have been selected.

Lions media advisor Alastair Campbell (right) keeps an eye on proceedings after the first Test
It was important that people realised the seriousness of the tackle against Brian
Lions media consultant Alastair Campbell
Lions media consultant Alastair Campbell denied Henry's charge that O'Driscoll's injury had been given undue prominence to mask the first Test defeat.

"I don't really see how you say that given that the first reaction from Clive Woodward and Martin Corry after the match was to say it was a poor performance," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"I don't think anybody tried to get away from that.

"But in Brian O'Driscoll's view - and anybody that knows him knows he's not going to exaggerate this - it was a deliberate spear tackle, an illegal tackle.

"One of the first questions at the press conference was 'can we see the video?'

"So when you subsequently show people the video, you can hardly say it was because we suggested it.

"It was important that people realised the seriousness of the tackle against Brian. He's the captain of the British and Irish Lions and he's out of the tour. It's not an insignificant event."

Interview: Lions media consultant Alastair Campbell



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