Wellington (AFP) - Former All Black Pat Lam slammed Steve Hansen on Thursday after the World Champions' coach labelled him an "ex-New Zealander" in a row over players.
The argument erupted after Lam this week successfully lured back-row forward Steven Luatua from New Zealand to English Premiership club Bristol, where he will coach next year.
A frustrated Hansen hit out at Lam for poaching a promising international talent, saying "if you're an ex-New Zealander you should be a bit mindful about players' careers".
New Zealand-born Lam, who is of Samoan descent, took exception to the description, labelling it "a personal attack on me and my family".
"I was born in New Zealand to hard-working Samoan parents," he said in a statement to radio station Newstalk ZB.
"I was educated in New Zealand... I am a proud New Zealander and I'm also proud to be a Pacific Islander."
Lam, who has coached Ireland's Connacht since 2013, said modern rugby was an international game and pointed out Hansen also had a stint with Wales from 2002 to 2004.
"Did Steve Hansen consider himself an ex-New Zealander when he chose to leave New Zealand and coach the Wales national team against the All Blacks?" he asked.
Lam left New Zealand after being sacked by the Auckland Blues midway through the 2012 Super Rugby season.
At the time, Lam revealed he had received racial abuse from some fans who linked his Islander heritage to the team's failure.