Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tana Umaga was not an All Black legend - just a great captain...

Tana Umaga was not an All Black legend - just a great captain...

I don't wish to demean the very successful career of Tana Umaga, from the Lower Hutt suburb of Wainuiomata. There has been emotional outpouring for Tana since he hung up his boots as far as playing in New Zealand is concerned.He played league in Wainuiomata, and was selected in the Junior Kiwis, before switching to rugby and playing in the Petone premier side.In the early days Tana was a very quick attacking player, but a bit of a soft-arse on defence at times.

He progressed to the Wellington senior representative side and became one of the original Hurricanes players. He also progressed to the All Blacks on the right wing; Jonah Lomu( a real legend ) being on the left wing then. Tana was a prolific try scorer on the wing, but looked towards his future by shifting to centre. He wasn't an instant success in that position - he left a lot to be desired there, but improved as a professional rugby player.

A claim from Wainuiomata that he stands up there with Meads and Kirkpatrick was rather ridiculous. Tana may be a legend in Wainuiomata, Petone and Wellington, but he is not an All Black legend as a player.

To be an All Black legend a player had to be world class, or one of the greats in his position. Tana was neither as a player. He improved with age as a centre, a bit like old wine, and became respected by his peers and supporters. We do not have to dwell too much on his on-field negativity, but it is a fact and affected his overall record as a player.

Of course it is a captain that Tana will be remembered the most, firstly as captain of the Hurricanes, and then Reuben Thorne's successor as All Black captain with the change of coach. Tana became a very successful captain of a very successful All Black team, which has progressed even further with Richie McCaw at the helm - a team that stands close to immortality with the beckoning Rugby World Cup in a few months time.

Tana's decision to only criticise referees, whether rightly or wrongly, after his retirement doesn't do much for his credibility - it was considered rather arrogant by some people.The referees probably deserved it, but it probably would have gone down better if Tana was still captain of the Hurricanes.


Anonymous said...

Tana was defnatly a ledgend! you have no idea what you are talking about.

Kiwi Riverman said...

I know exacty what I'm talking about, friend, probably a hell of a lot more than you! He may be a Wellington legend, but was just a very good All Black who has not dominated the positions he has played in - neither a Jonah Lomu or Jeff Wilson as a winger; or a Frank Bunce or Joe Stanley as a centre.

Anonyous hero!