SBW bracketed as Umaga slams O'Driscoll talk

by AAP

Tana Umaga fears the furore around the tackle that put Brian O'Driscoll out of the 2005 British and Irish Lions series may never end.

The former All Blacks captain will coach the Blues in Wednesday's Eden Park clash against the Lions, having moved from hard-hitting centre to Super Rugby mentor in the 12 years since the tourists' last New Zealand visit.

Umaga and Keven Mealamu's tip-tackle a minute into the first All Blacks Test against the Lions in 2005 left the tourists' captain and champion Irish centre with a tour-ending shoulder injury.

Mealamu recently admitted he still "feels a stink" about that tackle - but both men have always insisted the incident was a total mistake.

The Lions reacted furiously to O'Driscoll's injury at the time, with accusations and recriminations flying around.Umaga copped plenty of flack for the hit. Photo: Getty ImagesHowever, Umaga has now called for the whole scenario to be put to bed.

"That was 12 years ago, if people can't put it behind them I suppose they never will," said Umaga, ahead of the Blues hosting the Lions in Auckland on Wednesday.

"It's not about that time now. It's about this group now and against the Lions and hopefully the memories they make that are positive ones - and we just move on from that."

The 44-year-old has told his Blues squad to embrace the rare privilege of facing a Lions side that only tours New Zealand every 12 years.

"It's a great opportunity and for our guys to be involved in something pretty special," said Umaga.

The All Blacks won the 2005 series 3-0, in one of the Lions' worst tours in recent memory.Umaga is focused on the Blues' clash with the Lions, not 2005. Photo: Getty ImagesWarren Gatland's 2017 outfit laboured to a 13-7 tour-opening victory over the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians on Saturday and are already under pressure to hit form.

"We've talked about that, the media has got on the back of the Lions," said Umaga.

"But that's what happens, especially with a juggernaut like that.

"There's big expectation for them but we've got big expectation on ourselves too.Sonny Bill Williams will get his chance to impress on Wednesday. Photo: Getty Images"They will want a more polished performance but we just have to keep the pressure on them."

Sonny Bill Williams has been been given a chance to test his injured knee after being named in the Blues team.

Williams sat out the Blues' 34-29 win over the Queensland Reds in Samoa on Friday after suffering the injury a week earlier in their draw with the Chiefs.

He had made a late return to Super Rugby after suffering an Achilles injury playing for the All Blacks Sevens at the Rio Olympics.

Williams has been bracketed at inside centre with TJ Faiane.


Blues team to face the Lions

Michael Collins, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, George Moala, Sonny Bill Williams/ TJ Faiane, Stephen Perofeta, Augustine Pulu, Steve Luatua, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Scott Scrafton, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Ofa Tu'ungafasi. Reserves: Hame Faiva, Alex Hodgman, Sione Mafileo, Patrick Tuipulotu, Kara Pryor, Sam Nock, Ihaia West, TJ Faiane/Melani Nanai.