Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Umaga defends Pacific Island presence

January 10, 2006

Last month I fired off an angry rebuttal to the likes of the Times' Stephen Jones and the Observer's Eddie Butler, who have continually pushed a peevish and fraudulent canard about the NZRU raping the Pacific Islands of their talent.

It seems I'm not the only one tired of the phony whingeing:

Umaga defends Pacific Island presence


Tana Umaga took advantage of his farewell to international rugby yesterday
to fire a shot at those who criticise the number of Pacific Island players in the All Blacks team.

Umaga said he was tired of northern hemisphere critics who regularly accused New Zealand of poaching the best players from the Pacific to bolster the All Blacks, believing the "grief" was ill-informed and unjustified.

The first All Blacks captain of Polynesian heritage, Umaga said his parents moved from Samoa to New Zealand in the 1950s for one main reason.

"They emigrated as everyone else's did to give their children the best that they could," Umaga said.

"For us to be at the pinnacle of our country, how else could you better promote your family and give back to your parents for the sacrifice they made to leave their families to come over here.

"My parents love me being an All Black."

Other families arrived more recently than the Umagas, while some All Blacks teammates such as Fijian-born winger Joe Rokocoko are native to the islands. But Umaga said the theme remained the same.

"All these Pacific Islanders that are here, we're just living it for our families," he said.

"These people overseas that don't like what we do, they think (New Zealand) is pillaging.

"They don't have Pacific Islands close to them in the northern hemisphere, otherwise they'd be having it."



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