Cheika hits out at referee
Sydney - Each season brings with it new referees and Waratahs coaches Michael
Cheika and Daryl Gibson are learning the hard way about the priorities
of this year's crop.
The Waratahs were given a yellow card for repeated infringements in the
tackle area against the Rebels on Friday, prompting Cheika to
voice his disappointment about the carding and Gibson to concede the
team was getting it wrong at the breakdown.
Both said they needed to be
more mindful of the power of interpretation in the highly contested
contact area but also made it known they were baffled after two games
under two different referees.
VIDEO: Waratahs v Rebels - highlights
''The Australian teams are very competitive at the breakdown and that's
something referees are going to have come up to speed with,'' Gibson
said. ''The Reds, Brumbies and Waratahs are all very competitive around
that area and are putting the refs under pressure to get that right.''
It's a well-timed nudge before a crucial derby against the Brumbies in
Canberra next weekend. The game will feature David Pocock and Michael
Hooper, two of the best fetchers in the world, going head to head in a
game that will help to shape the Australian conference.
The Waratahs will be keen to strike the right balance to avoid a repeat
of Friday's game, in which, halfway through the first half, new referee
Rohan Hoffman warned captain Dave Dennis that they were pushing the
boundaries. Hoffman pulled the yellow card from his pocket less than
five minutes later after penalising hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau for not
rolling away in a tackle on Rebels halfback Nick Phipps.
Cheika disagreed with the call.
''I was really disappointed about the yellow card from the referee
because it [was] a collapsed maul and the player doesn't have to go
anywhere,'' he said. ''But I understand it's also Rohan's first game of
Super Rugby so, like anyone else, [he is] getting acclimatised.''
Dennis said the Tahs were awarded a penalty for the same thing in the 73rd minute.
While the coaching staff work on the technical aspect of the breakdown,
there will also be fascinating selection discussions. Cheika has gone
with a forward-heavy, five-two bench for the past two matches, leaving
rookie Ben Volavola to plug holes in the back line.
Volavola was outstanding when he replaced winger Tom Kingston in the
second half, with the substitution forcing fullback Israel Folau to the
wing while Volavola stepped in at the back.
Cheika said Folau was ''a lot more efficient'' after the switch, while
Gibson said Volavola's impact was in distribution. Referring to the
balance on the bench, Gibson said: ''We recognise that where we needed
our strength to be in the last two rounds was in the forwards.''