Hammett admits mistakes

HARD DECISIONS: Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett.
HARD DECISIONS: Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett.

For what it's worth, Mark Hammett says he's sorry.

The Hurricanes coach last night capped an emotional night as his team bade farewell to their departing stars, including unwanted All Blacks Ma'a Nonu and Andrew Hore, by admitting the whole thing could have been done so much better.

The Canes ended their Super Rugby season by going down to the Crusaders, producing an emotionally- charged performance to honour Nonu and Hore, as well as Neemia Tialata and John Schwalger.

Asked if he had a message to his dumped All Blacks after the turmoil around their exit, Hammett delivered an emotional response.

"I suppose my big message is that I wish it could have been done better," he said. "I feel for them and feel for their families, and the reason why I know it's so tough for them is because my family has had to go through the same thing.

"It's one of the big learnings for us as a franchise going forward. We just need to make these transitions a bit smoother."

Hammett admitted he had copped some abuse from the rugby public around the capital.

"You've got to remember a lot of that is because they're passionate people, and they let you know. We don't want to lose that. It's difficult for them seeing heroes moving on. I'm the culprit in their eyes and I've got to take that."

Hurricanes halfback Piri Weepu, who is still weighing his future in the game amid the turmoil, said he felt the whole process should have been handled differently. "It definitely could have been handled better. Without going too far into it, I guess it's a lesson learnt," he said.

"I went to see Neemia's family, and saw Horey's family as well. The emotions are running pretty high."

The All Blacks halfback said it was not the right time to make a decision on his future.

"At the moment I'm pretty emotional, I'm losing a couple of good mates, so I guess for myself my state of mind is not very clear at this stage. I started my rugby here, and there's a bit of talk in the background. I'll have to sit down and talk to my family about it."

Hore refused to point any fingers over his sacking. "I'm a Central Otago lad who came up here and played 10 years for the Hurricanes, and that's been huge.

"I've got a lot of mates at home who are fairly good at rugby and they never got a chance. They're still playing for Maniototo. I'm fairly positive I can get down next week and help them out against Upper Clutha at Tarras."

Hore said he would weigh his options, including one offer from France, but he said his preference was to stay, to be handy to the family farms.

Sunday Star Times