Mealamu: I need to be careful
November 23, 2010
Keven Mealamu is set to return against Wales © Getty Images
All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu has admitted that he will need to be careful while clearing out at rucks when he returns from suspension against Wales this weekend.
The 31-year-old missed recent tour wins over Scotland and Ireland after being banned for four weeks, reduced to two on appeal, for striking England captain Lewis Moody with his head during New Zealand's 26-16 win at Twickenham on November 6.
His ban ended on Monday and the Auckland hooker is likely to be thrust back into the starting line-up as the All Blacks hunt a third Grand Slam tour in five years at the Millennium Stadium.
"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," he said. "You have to be physical to be able to move people but I may be a little more careful.
"When the ban was cut to two weeks I was stoked it was nothing to do with the head. 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."
Hawke's Bay's Hikawera Elliot stepped up to deputise for Mealamu during his ban and has since been praised by his senior team-mate for some energetic displays.
"I've been stoked for him, he has played really well," Mealamu said. "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."
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