The football doesn't stop!

The 2014 SWC might be over, but the PSL and English Premiership are around the corner! Have your say on our Forum!

LIVE

    Cheika slams Folau red light

    2014-04-12 08:19

    Sydney - New South Wales Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has slammed the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) for its extraordinary 11th hour decision to pull fullback Israel Folau out of Saturday's Super Rugby match against Western Force due to player safety concerns.

    Sidelined for two weeks with a throat injury, Folau had been picked for the Perth clash after being deemed fit to play by Waratahs medical staff.

    However, the ARU's chief medical officer Warren McDonald overruled his selection late on Friday, leaving Cheika to break the bad news to brilliant fullback Folau and re-jig his gameplan on the eve of the match.

    "Frustrated!" Folau wrote on his Twitter account, while Cheika, in a telephone interview from Perth, told Reuters the ARU had breached protocols by conducting their own independent medical analysis without notifying the team.

    He bristled at the suggestion the Waratahs had been prepared to risk the player's safety.

    "When every rugby player runs out onto the field there's a risk," the 47-year-old said. "The reality is that we felt, and we do still feel, that we did everything correctly.

    "I'm disappointed that there isn't faith in the way we do things ... (Israel is) very disappointed. He wanted to play. I'm the one left having to tell him he can't play and having to get him upset with me, even though it's not my decision."

    Cheika said the ARU had contacted a specialist earlier in the week without the team's knowledge and sat back as Folau undertook "full-contact" training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday, before officially notifying the team of the decision on Friday.

    "No medical person from the ARU has been in contact with Israel the whole time, that's why we were disappointed," Cheika said.

    "Everyone knew he was going through the process of training, full contact training. Which sometimes, for a guy in his position, full contact is more regular in training than you will have in a game.

    "I don't think (this) has ever happened, full-stop," Cheika added. "I certainly haven't seen it before."

    The ARU's McDonald said in a statement that Folau's injury had not healed to the point where it was in his "best interests" to play.

    "This is a player welfare issue, which has been the focus of all medical staff involved in this difficult decision, and we'll continue to work on the plan for his return as soon as possible," he said.

    News of the 15-test Wallaby's withdrawal drew scorn on social media on Saturday.

    "If the @QantasWallabies were playing the @AllBlacks this weekend, would the medical staff still have rested @IzzyFolau??" former Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell, now playing for French club Toulon, posted on Twitter, referring to Australia's arch-rivals New Zealand.

    The sensational decision robs the Waratahs of a player who has scored eight tries in four matches this season for a tough away match against a team riding a four-match winning streak.

    It also underlines Folau's status as Australian rugby's most prized asset, as both a proven match-winner at international level and pin-up boy for a football code struggling for relevance in Australia's saturated sports market.

    The move will raise eyebrows over the ARU's discretionary powers, coming nearly two months before the Wallabies' season-opening three-test series against France in June.

    Cheika, who coached Irish club Leinster to their maiden Heineken Cup triumph in 2009, said Wallabies back Kurtley Beale would switch to fullback to cover Folau, with Jono Lance moving to inside centre and Tala Grey coming into the reserves.

    He added that he felt Folau's reinstatement was out of the team's hands.

    "There's nothing for us to do now," he said. "If we felt he's fit to play this week, then he's fit to play next week. The ball's well and truly in their court now. They've taken charge of it, so there's nothing we can do really."

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    7 comments
    Add your comment
    Comment 0 characters remaining
    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk

    Fixtures

    26 July 2014
    • Crusaders v Sharks, Christchurch 09:35
    • Waratahs v Brumbies, Sydney 11:40
    02 August 2014
    • TBC v TBC, 01:00

    Results

    19 July 2014
    12 July 2014
    11 July 2014
    06 July 2014
    05 July 2014
    04 July 2014
    28 June 2014
    27 June 2014
    31 May 2014
    30 May 2014
    24 May 2014
    23 May 2014
    18 May 2014
    17 May 2014
    16 May 2014
    11 May 2014
    10 May 2014
    09 May 2014
    03 May 2014
    02 May 2014
    26 April 2014
    25 April 2014
    19 April 2014
    18 April 2014
    12 April 2014
    11 April 2014
    05 April 2014
    04 April 2014
    29 March 2014
    28 March 2014
    22 March 2014
    21 March 2014
    15 March 2014
    14 March 2014
    08 March 2014
    07 March 2014
    01 March 2014
    28 February 2014
    23 February 2014
    22 February 2014
    21 February 2014
    15 February 2014

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    EXPERT OPINION

    “Advantage is a great part of rugby, says Tank Lanning, but it allows for lots of personal interpretation, hence Victor Matfield’s tirade. ”

    Opinion Poll

    We're down to four teams left in contention for the 2014 Super Rugby title. Who will be crowned champions?

    Soccer World Cup quiz!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.