An irate Sam Moa has defended himself against accusations of rugby league thuggery after his late shot on Kangaroos playmaker Johnathan Thurston in the trans-Tasman Test last week.
Moa was put on report for the hit on Thurston in the second half of Australia's 16-0 win over New Zealand on Friday in Newcastle.
Andrew Johns was highly critical of Moa's actions while commentating on the Nine Network's broadcast and Thurston said he incurred whiplash in his neck as a result of the borderline tackle.
Sydney Roosters prop Moa was not cited by the match review committee over the tackle. But that did not stop North Queensland coach Paul Green again calling for greater protection for his superstar playmaker Thurston and labelling Moa's actions "dirty, off the play stuff".
"I will cop it on the chin; I will accept that it was late," Moa told AAP.
"But what I won't cop is that it was a cheap shot. I didn't mean to hurt him in any form.
"In my opinion, Johnathan is the best player walking in either code and my job as a middle person is to put pressure on the playmakers who like to take it to the line and Johnathan is courageous enough to do that.
"But for Paul Green to come out and say I was purposefully targeting Johnathan is total rubbish. If it was a front-rower, it would have been the same if he was taking the ball to the line."
Moa revealed he apologised to Thurston after the match.
"I spoke to him after the game and said 'sorry, I only got you about seven seconds too late'. I think he was still upset but he laughed it off," Moa said.
"If you look at it, I actually pulled out of it but it won't happen again.
"I hold Johnathan in very high regard."