British & Irish Lions
Healey fights his corner
July 16, 2001
Outspoken Lion Austin Healey has defended his tour outburst after growing criticism on both sides of the world.
Healey stung the world of rugby into retaliation with a string of derrogatory comments aimed at Australia, Australian men and in particular Wallaby Justin Harrison on the eve of Saturday's deciding 3rd Test.
But his comments were slammed by both the Australian press, who demanded he "never comes back" and branded him "immature", and Lions coach Graham Henry. "I am amazed that a Lion in the group would give the opposition the ammunition they required to prepare for the game," said Henry.
Speaking in his latest newspaper column Healey says, "Now we've lost, it's bound to be used as the reason. Austin's column cost us the tour. Up mine I suppose. I don't think I'm to blame for the defeat, or third-world debt or the Olympics going to Beijing, but it's been a weird time and anything is possible,"
"The Aussies whacked back my comments on their males, their country and my mate Justin and here I am.
"In the bunker, the doghouse, bad books all in one go in this country that may have uranium and opals but hasn't found the irony mine yet," Healey wrote.Healey did find time to offer an olive branch of sorts to Harrison however. "My mate Justin had a bit of a game didn't he? Of course he had the freedom of the park without me there to irritate him - well played Justin," said Healey.
Healey also skirted further trouble when reviewing the tour as a whole. "The bad bits? Losing the series. I could start again on the Aussies here. But now is probably not the best time. IN fact I could probably start on our approach to the Test. But that may make the fine worse. I just feel that we went for a rigid approach."
Healey faces a fine from the Lions for alleged breach of contract following the outburst.