Former Maori All Blacks captain Liam Messam has revealed how he was ordered to invade the pitch to get involved in a Bledisloe Cup bust-up with the Wallabies in 2015.
Messam was fined by SANZAAR for the incident at Eden Park and received a dressing down from the media, despite being given orders by All Blacks high command to lend his 110kg frame to proceedings. Messam – writing in his column for TheXV.rugby – says he was thrown under the bus over the incident.
“I should probably also shed some light on what happened when we played against the Wallabies at Eden Park in 2015 – although I wasn’t actually in the matchday team,” wrote Messam.
“Just a week earlier we’d been turned over in Sydney so there was a lot of hype heading into the match because the Bledisloe was on the line – and it was also going to be the final home game for guys like Richie McCaw and Dan Carter.
“I was asked to be waterboy for the match and I’d always prefer to be jogging along the sidelines than sitting in the stands so naturally I said yes.
“We were obviously a little bit on edge because of how important that game was. At one stage of the match, around 30 minutes in, there were some fisticuffs on the pitch and I ended up in the middle of it.
“I got a bit of a dressing down by the media after the match and the team was also fined – ‘if you’re not supposed to be on the field, don’t get on the field’ was the pretty clear message dished out from SANZAAR.
“Everyone thought I was just easily wound up or that I had a problem staying out of fights or something ridiculous, but not many people knew that I was actually given the word from upstairs to get myself involved.”
It was a big season for the All Blacks, who were coached at the time by Steven Hansen. The Bledisloe was the lead into that year’s Rugby World Cup in England, which the men in black would ulitmately go on to win.
“I probably shouldn’t say who delivered the message, but one of our players was getting a bit too hot-headed and you could see that he was being goaded by the Wallabies. I think the coaches were worried that our guy was going to throw a punch or something.
“It was early, but still a really crucial moment of the game and this little scuffle was unfolding when I hear in my earpiece: “Hunger, get in there, stop them!”
“It was early, but still a really crucial moment of the game and this little scuffle was unfolding when I hear in my earpiece: “Hunger, get in there, stop them!”. It started out kind of calm but then they started shouting: “Hunger! Get on the field!”.
“So I jumped on, tried to get between a few guys and basically just keep any of our men from doing anything stupid. Thankfully, we won the game but yeah, I did get thrown under the bus a little bit afterwards.
“Funnily enough, I’ve never been asked to do that again! Even if I do get asked, I’ll just take my earpiece out and say, “Oh, sorry. It must have gone flat.”
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