I have let myself, the team and probably the whole country down
Disgraced New Zealand hooker Andrew Hore apologised for his cheap shot from behind on Wales lock Bradley Davies that resulted in a slap-on-the-wrist five-match ban, saying he had let down his team and the entire country.
Hore, who will miss Saturday's Test against England due to the ban, said he was "embarrassed" at his action early in the 33-10 win over Wales last Saturday, which resulted in Davies being taken to hospital.
"Firstly, I want to say how bad I feel and embarrassed for being in this situation," he told reporters in London after the penalty was handed down.
"It is not the All Black way and I have let myself down and the team and probably the whole country that is pretty proud of what we do," .
Hore said he had personally apologised to Davies in a phone call and he hoped the Welshman, who will miss this weekend's Test against Australia after suffering concussion from the punch, made a swift recovery.
The 74-Test veteran said senior All Blacks had taken a dim view of his action.
"The All Black management and the leader group that I'm a part of has been pretty stern on me for getting us into this situation and I have to take what I have got and go back and start building a reputation as a good, clean, hard footy player," he said.
"Hopefully I can do that in the next Super Rugby competition when I get back playing."
Hore pleaded guilty to foul play at a judicial hearing and his suspension means he is out of the All Blacks' tour finale against England at Twickenham.
But because the ban also takes in three pre-season matches next year, the new Highlanders captain will miss just one Super Rugby match - against the Chiefs on February 22.
Hore, who has been in regular contact with Davies, said he hoped the lock would be back playing in the European Cup as soon as possible.
Explaining the incident, he said he was trying to do his job of going to clean out a ruck "and made a bad decision, which ended up with me being here".
All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said the hearing had been fair and team management accepted the "pretty significant punishment".
"We're satisfied with the process we've just been through," he said.
"It's nice to hear Andrew express remorse for Bradley. From us, too, as an All Black team, we wish him well."
Foster said Hore's character over more than 300 first-class games had been exemplary before the incident, for which he had fronted up and been punished.
A statement issued by Six Nations Rugby, which oversees the disciplinary process for the European Tests, said the judicial officer, Professor Lorne Crerar, ruled Hore's action was inherently dangerous.
Crerar said it was a deliberate swinging of the arm delivered with significant force, causing serious injury to the victim, who was unsighted.