Official sanction or not, Tana Umaga says he's learned his lesson when it comes to talking about referees.
Counties Manukau's coach could afford a wry smile after his charges lifted the Ranfurly Shield from Hawke's Bay on Saturday.
Umaga said it was a positive end to what he said had been a difficult few days dealing with the fall-out from his emotional reaction to referee Glen Jackson's rulings at Eden Park on Wednesday.
"I know what to do now. I know now that when it comes [to the ref's calls] I have to just write it down, clip it and send it in," he said.
"I'm a big UFC follower and [promoter] Dana White always says don't leave it to the ref to decide. That's a mantra we're adopting at Counties from here on.
"It has been an up and down week with me being in a bit of trouble and then [captain] Fritz Lee getting cited [for a high tackle], but we just used it to pull us together."
The New Zealand Rugby Union is still pondering whether to publically rap Umaga over the knuckles for his comments about Jackson after Counties 22-20 loss to Auckland.
In truth, there is probably no longer any need.
Umaga's a fast learner and Counties' historic Shield win is another sign the former All Blacks captain's stellar achievements as a player are slowly but surely seeping into his coaching.
While the Steelers weren't perfect in their play, they displayed the sort of unity and pride their coach has been working hard to instil in a province sometimes shackled by self-doubt.
"We were down but we fought back. We were chasing the game that whole second half but the boys stuck to their guns," captain Fritz Lee said.
"We've had a short turnaround and we haven't had much preparation for this game, but the boys had [the right] attitude and that's all we needed."
Lee epitomised the team's belief when he boldly turned down a sure three points with 20 minutes to play before tries to reserves Sean Reidy and Sikeli Naubo turned the match.
"It's in our nature [to have a go]. That's our campaign, we play what's in front of us and the boys saw some opportunities eventually and we took it. It came down to just one opportunity or two and we took them," Lee said.
There was much to be said for how the Steelers behaved in victory too. On-field celebrations were respectful toward the crushed Hawke's Bay side and the stunned crowd of 18,000.
There was a silent team prayer and time to sign fans autographs and take the Shield around the ground before the dressing room door was opened to media.
Sherwin Stowers, Counties best on the day, was deservedly front and centre as the mandatory team photos as the team song belted across an empty McLean Park.
Umaga left no doubt how much the 27-24 win meant to both him, his team and the South Auckland community.
"We'd seen what the Shield has done for Dunedin and Napier and Hastings and those areas, well, we represent South Auckland and we wanted something positive for that area to come out of this," he said.
Counties had never won the Shield with 24 failed challenges since its formation in 1955.
Umaga never won the Shield as a player, failing to get his hands on it during 100 matches for the Lions from 1994 to 2007 including the famously close loss 31-29 loss to Canterbury in 2001.
He rated Counties' win on a par with winning the NPC with Wellington in 2000, the All Blacks series win over the Lions in 2005 and his first All Black cap.
Now he wants the side to build some consistency, starting with their first Shield defence against Taranaki in Pukekohe on Sunday.
"We haven't been playing well and we're the first to admit that, but today we got things right and we dug deep. We're on the right track."
- © Fairfax NZ News