Mealamu raring to go

All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu is relishing the opportunity to get back on the pitch against Wales after serving a two match suspension.

The New Zealand hooker was cited for a head butt on England captain Lewis Moody. He was originally suspended for four weeks but saw that halves on appeal.

That period has now been served and Mealamu is set to make his comeback at the Millennium Stadium as the All Blacks target their third Grand Slam tour in five years.

But he admits he will have to be careful after coming through one of the most difficult periods of his career.

“It’s definitely been a tough time but you try and take the good things out of a bad situation and I’m pretty sure I’ll be well prepared for the next Test,” said Mealamu. “There’s nothing worse than being suspended but it’s also given me the chance to prepare for Wales and finish this tour well.

“I think the last three weeks have been the hardest I’ve had to endure. But I’ve had really good support from the team and from back home and that’s been important. When I walked out of the appeal I was really stoked that it wasn’t anything to do with being intentional. We had video clips to show it as well.

“Most of the clips were from one angle but we had a few more that you could see that I was leading with the shoulder. It was probably a little bit reckless and I could have hurt him. I understand that could happen to any player, especially in the clean out position. You see so many players going down and getting injured in that area as well. I have to be careful this week.

“It’s going to be in the back of my mind but I still have to do my job and if there are people lying around the ball or trying to kill the ball I have to move them from the ruck.

“I’ll be thinking I have to be careful but still have to do a job which does include having to be physical and having to move people.”
The 81-cap All Black is aware that this could be his last match on a European tour and while he admits Wales provide a tough challenge he is keen to finish the tour on a high with an historic Grand Slam.

“It’s been a dream come to true to be able to play this long for the All Blacks,” added Mealamu. “It’s been awesome so far and hopefully we can get a good result on the weekend and finish off this tour with a win.

“Every year is a new year for the All Blacks and you never know if you’re going to get picked again.You always make sure your last Test is a good one because you never know if it is your last.

“It’s important for the team to do the Grand Slam but especially for this group. Whenever we come over here it’s a new All Blacks squad and you don’t travel with the same players on every tour.

“It’s important we finish this tour well and get the result this group has worked hard to get. We can’t take much out of the Fiji game.

“The Welsh will be up for this game because of the history of the two teams. I thought they played really well against Australia and South Africa and could probably have got a bit more out of those two Tests.

“They were very unlucky not to beat South Africa. We need to make sure we are ready to play what’s going to be a tough Test match.”