Gatland says All Blacks targeting Lions halfback

Lions coach Warren Gatland has again raised the issue of off the ball play by the All Blacks.

Gatland said he's concerned his halfback Connor Murray was unfairly targeted during the Auckland test.

Ahead of the first test, Gatland asked the referees to look at what he claimed was the All Blacks using "blocking" tactics to protect kicking receivers.

He said he'll now be going back to the officials again in the next few days about some of the attention given to his form Irish halfback Connor Murray on Saturday night.

"There was a charge down where someone has dived at his legs, I thought it was a little bit dangerous. And after he's kicked he's been pushed a few times and pushed to the ground.

"They are no massive issues for us. I'm just making sure he's been looked after and protected and not harassed after he's box kicked."

Meanwhile the All Blacks have released Julian Savea, Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett and Vaea Fifita for the Hurricanes match with the Lions on Tuesday night.

However, coach Steve Hansen says that doesn't mean they won't feature in the All Blacks 23 for Saturday's second test against the Lions in Wellington.

"It doesn't mean they won't be playing on Saturday for us or playing a role. It just means we want them to be available and to get a game."

The All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has hinted that Aaron Cruden could start at first-five and Beauden Barrett at fullback for the second test against the British and Irish Lions in Wellington.

Fullback Ben Smith has been all but ruled out of the rest of the series with concussion, with the Chiefs Damian McKenzie called into the squad as cover.

Many expect Israel Dagg could move from wing to his natural position of fullback for test two, however Hansen said he was impressed with what Cruden and Barrett did when Smith was forced from the field in Saturday's opening test win.


Photo: Photosport Lions halfback Connor Murray