Argentina ace refused New Zealand star’s handshake for ‘picking on him’
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    An Argentina rugby star refused to shake hands with a New Zealand counterpart because he had been ‘picking on him’ during a game.

    The Pumas, who dumped out Wales in the quarter-finals, face the All Blacks in the first of the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in Paris tonight (Friday). New Zealand will be hot favourites, but Argentina can’t be counted out.

    The teams meet regularly in the Rugby Championship, which also includes South Africa and Australia. Sparks flew during a meeting last year, with Pablo Matera and All Blacks hero Dan Coles confronting each other. The former appeared to aim a headbutt at Coles at one point and it later transpired why Matera was so angry with his opponent.

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    Matera, who played in New Zealand for the Crusaders last year before moving to Japan, told the What a Lad podcast: “He just continued picking on me in every ruck and every scrum, saying some things that really hurt, some strong things.

    “I don't want to repeat it, but I couldn't understand why. They were winning by 40 points, he just came on… I didn't understand his attitude. I know he's a great player and I know he's a great guy as well, because his team-mates spoke to me after the game and said 'he's a good guy', and I said 'I'm sure he's a good guy’.

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    “But I just didn't understand why he continued picking at me and he said things I'm sensitive about, like me being in New Zealand… ‘You don't belong here’. I was, like, ‘If you knew how much me and my family went through to be able to come here, you wouldn't be saying these things’.”

    As a result, Matera declined to shake hands with Coles after the game, instead pushing his rival firmly in the shoulder. He later admitted he wasn’t proud of his post-match conduct.

    “That is not something I'm proud about, to be honest, because I know there are a lot of young kids, young players that watch the game, and it's not a good example,” he said. “I'm one of the guys that say things that happen on the field, stay on the field, that's how it has to be always, but that day was a bit different to be honest, that day was a bit different.”

    Matera will not be in action tonight after being ruled out of the rest of tournament with a torn hamstring he suffered in the pool stage victory over Japan.

    • Rugby World Cup
    • Rugby union

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