Umaga hits out over tackle

Former All Blacks defends 2005 clash with Brian O'Driscoll

By Tony Curtis.   Last Updated: 26/09/07 12:02am

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Before the storm: Tana Umaga and Brian O'Driscoll

Before the storm: Tana Umaga and Brian O'Driscoll

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Former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga has described the reaction to his tackle on Brian O'Driscoll during the 2005 British Lions tour as "hard to believe and harder to stomach".

The centre came under fire after O'Driscoll was left with a dislocated shoulder just a minute into the first Test at Christchurch.

Umaga and All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu had caught O'Driscoll heavily, however despite both players being cited, neither faced any charges following and independent investigation.

However, Umaga has finally spoken about the incident in his autobiography Tana Umaga - Up Close, which was released on Wednesday.

He said: "You don't want to take it personally but it's almost impossible not to when another player, a guy you had some respect for, attacks your character in the most direct and damning terms.

Crying

"My first thought was geez, don't be a sook; there's no use crying about it, man, it's over. On the other hand I could understand how bitterly disappointed O'Driscoll was.

"He would have been just like me: buzzing with anticipation, really up for it, and desperate to make a point on the field."

Umaga has also hit out at criticisms from O'Driscoll that he had failed to contact the Irish centre to find out how he was.

He explained: "At first the kerfuffle didn't really bother me.

"It was a case of, oh well that's the way it is. But it just snowballed and O'Driscoll kept going on about the fact that I hadn't rung him to say sorry.

"I'd actually tried to get hold of him on the Monday via the Lions' media liaison person but I never heard back."

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