Wallabies coach Michael Cheika speaking in Tokyo on Monday. Picture: Getty Images
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika speaking in Tokyo on Monday. Picture: Getty Images

Hodge judiciary date set as Cheika tears into Fiji

The Wallabies face an anxious wait before settling on their team for this weekend's World Cup blockbuster against Wales with cited winger Reece Hodge still to face the judiciary over the tackle that left Fijian flanker Peceli Yato concussed.

Head coach Michael Cheika is confident that Hodge will be cleared because recent changes to the disciplinary process allow Australia to challenge the decision to cite him.

The Wallabies had been hoping the case could be heard on Monday because the players had the day off from training but it was delayed until Wednesday afternoon when Australia's standby lawyer was called away on business.

"Like everything on this trip, since the typhoon knocked us out trying to get here the first day, all the little obstacles that get in our way," Cheika said.

"We'll just deal with them and take things on the run and still look forward to the game that's coming up this weekend."

Cheika is banking on Hodge getting off because the four officials in charge of Saturday's game against Fiji (the referee, two linesmen and the television match official) cleared him when they reviewed the incident at the time.

Hodge was later charged with foul play after Fiji referred the matter to the citing commissioner - an escalation Cheika described as being against the spirit or rugby - although the new rules state that the only way the case can be reopened is if it was a clear red-card offence.

"(World Rugby citing commissioner manager) Steven Hinds mentioned that if a team of four had dealt with it on the day that it would have to be clear and obvious for it to get cited," Cheika said.

"So they're working together as a team, they were talking about calibration, I think was their buzz word and I think it was pretty clear that all the officials dealt with it on the day.

"I think if you've seen from the conjecture around and the majority of footballers, rugby players from the past who have have said it's not an illegal tackle, that it's not clear and obvious even in that point of view, so I was surprised that it was cited."

 

 

Australia's Reece Hodge, left, flies as he is pushed away by Fiji's Peceli Yato. Hodge has been cited over the contact. Picture: AP
Australia's Reece Hodge, left, flies as he is pushed away by Fiji's Peceli Yato. Hodge has been cited over the contact. Picture: AP

 

 

Cheika wasn't impressed with Fiji's decision to refer the matter after it had been dealt with on the field, accusing the Pacific Islanders of breaching one of the sport's most sacred rules by dobbing on Hodge.

"That was really disappointing, I don't find that, the way that they brought that, in the spirit of the game at all," Cheika said.

"I prefer they come up to me and get upset with me if they were really upset about it, not to then talk to me in that nice sort of friendly chitty chat way and then put in a referral."

The uncertainty over Hodge's availability means the selectors will have to bide their time before sitting down to pick the team but one thing Cheika said on thing that won't be changing is Australia's high-risk approach to the game despite the scare against Fiji.

The Wallabies trailled by nine points early in the second half after overplaying their hands and while thundered home to win easily in the end, Cheika said there was no thought to playing less aggressively against the Welsh.

 

 

Reece Hodge is likely to face the judiciary on Tuesday or Wednesday. Picture: Getty Images
Reece Hodge is likely to face the judiciary on Tuesday or Wednesday. Picture: Getty Images

 

"That is the way we are born to play. Do Australian supporters want us to kick all the time and go and chase the kick? That is why you play isn't it, to play?" Cheika said.

"I get it, I understand there are the tactics, kick and pressure and all that business, but there is no guarantee that style of footy is going to win us games either. There is no one saying, 'play like that and you are guaranteed victory'. There are plenty of teams that play like that and don't win.

"That is who we are and that is how we want to play footy. That's how I'd like my young fellas to play footy and I'd like the young Aussies to watch us playing like that."

 

 

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Stream the Rugby World Cup 2019 on KAYO SPORTS. Every match Live & On-Demand on your TV, computer, mobile or tablet. Get your 14 day free trial >

News Corp Australia


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