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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 11:24 GMT
Charvis defends under-fire Umaga
Tana Umaga comes to the aid of a stricken Colin Charvis
New Zealand skipper Tana Umaga can expect a barracking from British and Irish fans during this autumn's tour.

There is still bad feeling over Umaga's spear-tackle that ended Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll's Lions tour in June.

But Umaga has a supporter in Colin Charvis, after coming to the rescue of the injured Wales flanker in 2003.

"When I got knocked out Tana was brilliant - I was unconscious but he rolled me over and ensured I didn't swallow my gum-shield," Charvis said.

Charvis had been on the receiving end of a huge tackle from All Blacks back row Jerry Collins, who he will again face on the field this Saturday in Cardiff when Wales host New Zealand.

As the play swept on leaving Charvis unmoving on the turf, Umaga ignored all thoughts of the game to help a fellow player in distress.

Colin Charvis is knocked out by a Jerry Collins tackle

Umaga received an international fair play award for his act, which quite possibly saved Charvis from serious harm.

Roll on two years to the first Lions Test in Christchurch and Umaga, along with New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu, "spear" O'Driscoll head first into the ground.

"It was a cheap shot which has put me out. They could have quite easily broken my neck," O'Driscoll said at the time.

There is still plenty of bitterness surrounding that event, although O'Driscoll has since said he holds no grudge.

But Charvis prefers to believe that act was an aberration and the real Tana Umaga is the one who rushed to his aid in Hamilton.

"For that day, the degree of sportsmanship Tana showed was impeccable," Charvis said.

That (O'Driscoll) incident has been dealt with - I don't want to help him sell his books any more
All Blacks skipper Tana Umaga

"From the situation I was in in 2003, I couldn't ask any more from someone than what Tana did for me.

"I've never seen Tana go out to deliberately injure an opponent.

"There's 101 different camera angles (of the O'Driscoll incident) and there's 101 different opinions on it.

"I'm sure only Tana knows what his intentions were, all we can do is wish Brian a speedy recovery - he's a great asset to Irish rugby and we want to see him back on the pitch."

O'Driscoll will miss Ireland's match against New Zealand next week as he convalesces from his shoulder injury, but should be back for the Six Nations.

Brian O'Driscoll is stretchered off during the first 2005 Lions Test against New Zealand

Umaga has been tipped to be rested by All Blacks coach Graham Henry at Lansdowne Road, along with Mealamu.

But Umaga himself has dismissed what happened on the Lions tour as old history and is now just focussed on chasing a grand slam of wins against the home nations.

"If I carried all that sort of stuff on my shoulders going into a game, I wouldn't be able to get out there," Umaga said.

"There's a lot more peripheral stuff that you have to get used to. For 80 minutes, I get to put it aside and play rugby.

"You can't control these things and you just have to get on with it. That (O'Driscoll) incident has been dealt with - I don't want to help him sell his books any more."

O'Driscoll will soon release a book looking back on the Lions tour, and has been involved in public spats with Gavin Henson over revelations in the Wales centre's new book.

Interview: New Zealand captain Tana Umaga

Interview: Wales' Mark Taylor


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