Tue, Aug 22, 2006 - Page 18 News List

New Zealand PM lambasts 'appalling' assaults on McCaw

AFP , WELLINGTON

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark yesterday criticized the "appalling" assaults against All Black captain Richie McCaw during Saturday's hard-fought 34-27 victory over Australia in Auckland.

Wallaby winger Lote Tuqiri has been banned for five games after a spear tackle on McCaw in the 44th minute and Clark -- who rarely comments on rugby even though it is New Zealand's sporting passion -- was asked if Tuqiri should have been sent off.

"One hesitates as just someone in the stand to voice an opinion, but certainly I felt someone should have been sent off," Clark said on NewsTalk ZB radio.

"I thought it was absolutely appalling. We witnessed several acts of assault against the All Blacks captain and it was very, very ugly to see."

Australia said before the match they would target McCaw as they tried to prevent a third-straight loss against the All Blacks this year.

Australian flanker Phil Waugh opened the account, hitting McCaw with an unpunished forearm jolt in the 12th minute. Aggressive loose forward Rocky Elsom soon after hauled McCaw away from a breakdown.

Tuqiri was not punished during the game but was cited afterwards and will not play again until Nov. 2.

He said there was no malice or intent in the tackle, which left McCaw dazed with a sore neck.

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