League: Tamati reveals racial abuse sparked infamous brawl

Former Kiwi rugby league hard man prop Kevin Tamati has revealed that racial abuse from Kangaroo counterpart Greg Dowling was the cause of their notorious sideline punch-up in 1985.

The fight, which happened just after both props had been sinbinned, overshadowed Australia's 26-20 victory in a fiery clash in Brisbane.

As the players made their way towards the tunnel, trading words, Tamati suddenly reacted and the fists began flying between the pair.

Tamati told TV3 News that Dowling began making derogatory remarks about his colour and his Maori ancestry as they were making their way off the pitch.

"As always, it's f***ing nigger, you f***ing black bastard. You're no f***ing good for rugby. All You're f***ing good for is f***ing stoushing."

When he felt Dowling put his hand on him, he snapped and the brawl erupted.

However, Tamati, 55, held no grudges against Dowling and didn't consider the Queenslander a racist.

"No, I don't think he's a racist at all," he said.

Rather, Tamati believed it was more a case of frustration, of "someone who falls back into the gutter by pulling out what he perceives as being hurtful comments".

Tamati, who played 22 tests for New Zealand from 1979 to 1985, didn't regret his actions.

But he was upset that the punch-up remained the incident that people remembered most from what was an enthralling three-test series.

He was speaking out now because he wanted a ban on all sledging, which he described as worse than fighting.

He also said he used to cop plenty from opposition fans, who would call him "monkey" and "nigger", which only served to fire him up.

"I used to beat the sh** out of their players."

- NZPA


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