Earlier this week, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen expressed his disappointment regarding Steven Luatua's decision to join Aviva Premiership side Bristol from next season.
Hansen was also critical of the part which Pat Lam played in Luatua's decision, saying that the Connacht head coach - who takes over at Bristol next season - had 'tapped Luatua on the shoulder'.
Hansen added that Lam should be more considerate regarding Luatua's All Blacks career, in the process referring to Lam as an 'ex- New Zealander'.
It is a description with which Lam has taken umbrage.
In a statement issued via Tony Veitch of New Zealand radio station Newstalk ZB, Lam said that he was unhappy with what he felt was a 'personal attack' by Hansen.
Pat Lam Statement
I am very saddened and disappointed that All Black Head coach Steve Hansen has made a personal attack on myself and my family by calling me an ‘Ex New Zealander.’
Since professionalism began in 1996 many New Zealand rugby players have signed for overseas clubs coached by New Zealanders. Currently there are over 50 All Blacks playing for foreign teams and only four weeks ago 47 test capped current All Black Aaron Cruden was recruited by New Zealander Vern Cotter for Montpellier in France.
I am not sure why Steve Hansen would unprecedentedly choose to single me out publically and call me an ‘Ex New Zealander’
I was born in New Zealand to hard working Samoan parents. I was educated in New Zealand and worked as a Schoolteacher and a professional rugby coach in New Zealand. I had the privilege and honor to represent both my country of birth and my country of heritage. I am a proud New Zealander and I’m also proud to be a Pacific Islander. The only reason we don't live in New Zealand at the moment is I had an opportunity to continue to coach rugby professionally in Ireland and support my family after being sacked by the NZRU and the Blues.
Did Steve Hansen consider himself an Ex New Zealander when he chose to leave New Zealand and coach the Wales National Team against the All Blacks?
Myself and I’m sure many other New Zealanders who are living and working overseas do not consider ourselves ‘Ex New Zealanders’ just because we are not living in New Zealand. When I have joined the thousands of other Northern based Kiwis who attended and cheered on the All Blacks in their test matches in the Northern Hemisphere we certainly didn't do so as ‘Ex New Zealanders’
I believe many New Zealanders would also be offended to be labeled an ‘Ex New Zealander’ by the All Black coach; as he has great influence because of his position of privilege and responsibility in representing New Zealand worldwide.
Who determines and judges who is a New Zealander and who isn’t?
I don't believe that has ever been the role of the All Black Head Coach.