Tahu escapes racism row with a haka - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tahu escapes racism row with a haka

By Nicky Park and Joe Barton 13/10/2010 05:04:31 PM Comments (0)

Controversial NRL star Timana Tahu has escaped a racism row in Australia by flying across the Tasman to make his debut with the NZ Maori team.

The Parramatta centre has been accused of calling a 16-year-old indigenous player a "black c***" during an Aboriginal knockout tournament - a matter which is part of an ongoing investigation likely to stretch into next week.

But while that controversy rages, Tahu is seeking salvation from another source.

The 29-year-old will make his NZ Maori team debut on Saturday night in a friendly clash against England, in a match where he will honour his late New Zealand-born father, Tom, who died in 2003.

And he is adamant that he won't be letting anybody down on the night.

"For me, it's just getting back to my culture and coming back to New Zealand and putting on my jersey with pride," said Tahu, who sports a North Island Maori tattoo on his right shoulder in remembrance of his dad.

"I know a lot about my Aboriginal culture but not my Maori culture so for me the experience has been really good.

"I always wanted to do it (but) State of Origin was always in the way of things.

"I still feel like I'm at the peak of my career and I didn't want to come over and play with the Maori (side) without legs and look stupid."

And while they'll be running out against an experienced English team who are deep in preparations for the Four Nations, Tahu issued a warning to Adrian Morley's men.

"We're not just there to be a team just to walk over, it's not going to be a training run, I take this stuff seriously," he fired.

"I'm preparing the same as I would for an international game or a representative game and I think a lot of the other boys are preparing like that too.

"A lot of them are NRL players and we're all professional footballers and at the end of the day we want to go out there and put pride in our jerseys."

Tahu was all smiles as he performed the traditional haka with all the debutants - while stripped down to his underwear - after NZ Maori took part in a physical opposed training session with New Zealand at Auckland's North Harbour Stadium on Wednesday.

"That's something that I've grown up with and my old man taught me when I was a little kid," Tahu said.

"And plus every time the Kiwis or the All Blacks play Australia that's probably the highlight of the game and I sit my little son in front of the TV, it's just tradition.

"I thought the boys were geeing me up (about performing an impromptu haka in underwear), but we ended up doing it.

"It's tradition and it's been going on for years and I think it brings the players together."

New Zealand squad members Lewis Brown and Sam McKendry will also line up for the Maori side, giving them the first look at a fearsome English pack which includes former NRL enforcer Adrian Morley, South Sydney's Sam Burgess and West Tiger Gareth Ellis.

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