ALL Blacks hooker Andrew Hore has apologised for the hit that floored Wales forward Bradley Davies, saying he is embarrassed at the incident that has resulted in a five-week rugby ban.
The punch from behind in the opening minute of New Zealand’s 33-10 win in Cardiff last weekend left Davies with concussion, ruling him out of Wales’ Test against Australia.
Hore pleaded guilty to foul play at a judicial hearing and his suspension means he is out of the All Blacks’ tour finale against England at Twickenham.
But because the ban also takes in three pre-season matches next year, the new Highlanders captain will miss just one Super Rugby match – against the Chiefs on February 22.
“Firstly, I want to say how bad I feel and embarrassed for being in this situation,” he told reporters in London after the penalty was handed down.
“It’s not the All Black way. I’ve let myself down and the team, and probably the whole country that is pretty proud of what we do.”
The 34-year-old Hore, a veteran of 74 Tests, said the All Blacks management, as well as the leadership group he was part of, had been “pretty stern on me” for what had happened.
“Hopefully I can just take what I’ve got and go back and start building a reputation as a good, clean, hard footy player.”
Hore, who has been in regular contact with Davies, said he hoped the lock would be back playing in the Heineken Cup as soon as possible.
Explaining the incident, he said he was trying to do his job of going to clean out a ruck “and made a bad decision, which ended up with me being here”.
All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said the hearing had been fair and team management accepted the “pretty significant punishment”.
“We’re satisfied with the process we’ve just been through,” he said.
“It’s nice to hear Andrew express remorse for Bradley. From us, too, as an All Black team, we wish him well.”
Foster said Hore’s character over more than 300 first-class games had been exemplary before the incident, for which he had fronted up and been punished.
A statement issued by Six Nations Rugby, which oversees the disciplinary process for the European Tests, said the judicial officer, Professor Lorne Crerar, ruled Hore’s action was inherently dangerous.
Crerar said it was a deliberate swinging of the arm delivered with significant force, causing serious injury to the victim, who was unsighted.
However, he found Hore had not intended to make contact with Davies’ head.
He began with a starting point of eight weeks, which he reduced for mitigating factors.
Those factors included Hore’s guilty plea, his daily contact with Davies, an exemplary disciplinary record and his conduct during the hearing.