Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Mealamu - I need to be careful

New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu admits he may have to be more careful when clearing out at rucks as he prepares to return from suspension against Wales on Saturday.

The 31-year-old missed the wins over Scotland and Ireland after being handed a four-week ban, reduced to two on appeal, for striking England captain Lewis Moody with his head during the All Blacks' 26-16 win at Twickenham on November 6.

He said: "It may be at the back of my mind but I have to do my job, which is to remove people from the ruck if they are getting in the way or slowing the ball down. You have to be physical to be able to move people but I may be a little more careful."

Mealamu, who has 82 caps to his name, has also spoken of his relief that the panel at his appeal hearing ruled that the contact he made with Moody was not intentional.

"When the ban was cut to two weeks I was stoked it was nothing to do with the head," he said.

"It was reckless and I could have hurt him, but that can happen to any player in the cleanout position as so many players are down there.

"Most of the video clips (of the incident) were from just the one angle but we had a few more that showed it was leading with the shoulder."

Hikawera Elliot was handed the hooking responsibilities while Mealamu served his punishment. He delivered a strong showing on his debut at Murrayfield and again at the Aviva Stadium in Saturday's 38-18 success over Ireland, proving to be accurate at the line-out and dynamic around the park.

Mealamu could not help but be impressed by the 23-year-old's displays.

He said: "I've been stoked for him, he has played really well. At the set-piece he has been almost perfect and he is a guy who adds a lot around the field too. He has taken his opportunity and has stepped up to the mark."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph