Sydney - The Waratahs believe their in-form Wallabies loose-head prop Benn Robinson is being illegally targeted in the scrum, with opposing breakaways sliding up into the front row to nullify his impact.
The issue flared during the Waratah's 12-6 win over the Stormers at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday. Schalk Burger was repeatedly warned by referee Bryce Lawrence, then penalised for a dangerous infringement. The tactic allowed the Stormers to have a four-man frontrow and pitted Robinson against two men.
"It effectively turns into a four-man frontrow. It is not a fair contest," Waratahs captain Phil Waugh said. "The referee let him get away with it the first couple of times, but it was good refereeing to [penalise Burger]."
Waugh said Robinson, who has shone as arguably the prop of this Super 14 season, has been subjected to the tactic "a fair bit".
"There have been a number of flankers that have been coming up on 'Fat Cat'," Waugh said.
Waratahs coach Chris Hickey said: "It's something we have been experiencing in nearly every game. It was good Bryce got on to it. It is illegal."
But he does not believe the Bulls will use the ploy on Saturday at the Sydney Football Stadium because "they are a much bigger forward pack. They might not rely on that tactic".
Waugh said: "They pride themselves [on] forward dominance."
The sliding tactics could be seen as a back-handed compliment to Robinson but, Waugh said, "he gets very frustrated by it. The loose-head is very exposed. It [sliding up] is not a safe action."
Also riling the skipper were the uncontested scrums after Stormers tight-head Brian Mujati left the field.
"There was a contest for 65 minutes, then a bloke limps off and there are uncontested scrums for the last 15 minutes when they need to win the game," Waugh said. "We want the contest in that part of the game. It is one of the strengths of our game."
Waratahs second-rower Dean Mumm split the webbing in his hand and had four stitches, but he is expected to play on Saturday.
Waugh has confirmed Welsh club Neath-Swansea Ospreys are among the European clubs interested in securing his services.