'It’s something I still feel stink about' - All Black Mealamu discusses tackle that ended Brian O'Driscoll's Lions tour
All Blacks legend Keven Mealamu has opened up on the tackle that saw Lions captain Brian O'Driscoll dislocate his shoulder in 2005, saying that he regrets that the incident took the 'focus away from the team and the performance'.
New Zealand comprehensively beat the Lions 21-3 in the first test in Christchurch almost 12 years ago, but the visitors' chances weren't helped by losing their star player to injury following a spear tackle just moments into the game.
Mealamu and All Blacks centre Tana Umaga escaped punishment for the tip tackle, which still remains a bone of contention for Lions supporters all these years later.
"It's not something you ever want to do - take the focus away from the team and the performance," Mealamu said to Newsroom.co.NZ.
"It's something I still feel stink about.
“We cleaned up in the lineout and didn’t give them a show. It was a pretty damned good performance to get things underway.
“But the talk about that test was about Brian O’Driscoll getting injured. It was a shame, and I felt for him, it’s not nice thing for anyone to be injured so early in a test, but all the talk wasn’t about the game and how well we played, it was about him.”
Mealamu recently bumped into O'Driscoll at a hotel in Hong Kong, with the All Blacks hooker revealing that the duo had a nice chat - without mentioning the tackle.
The World Cup-winning front row says that the reason he didn't check on the injured O'Driscoll after the incident was because he was caught up in the game.
“It’s one of the reasons I didn’t go back to see how he was because it happened so quickly and I had moved on,” he said.
“I just thought it was a typical rugby movement till I realised Tana was on the side and we had tipped him up and he had landed on his shoulder.”