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Michael Cheika: I am embarassed

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'As a rugby player, a former player, I am embarrassed'

Reporting from Toyko: Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has said he’s “embarrassed” by the ongoing mess and confusion surrounding the tackle in rugby union.

Australian centre Samu Kerevi was penalised by referee Romain Poite for appearing to lead with his forearm in a carry that saw him floor Wales flyhalf Rhys Patchell. The TMO referred it to Poite, which saw the game stopped for several minutes.

Cheika was quizzed on the decision in the post-match press conference and likened Patchell’s tackle to the Reece Hodge collision with Peceli Yato.

“It was pretty funny because I thought I had seen that tackle before, it could have been Reece Hodge, I am not sure. When our guy makes that tackle and has the high tackle framework in his head, he gets suspended. This guy doesn’t think about the high tackle framework and we get penalised.

“As a rugby player, a former player, I am embarrassed here. As a rugby player I am embarrassed.”

High tackle protocols and the apparent differences in referee interpretation have been a major talking point at the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Cheika said the key was looking after players.

“That’s a tough one, right. You have got to care on the field, you have got to look after players, but not to the extreme where you are looking after the players just for the doctors and lawyers. You’ve got to look after the players for the players.”

“I don’t understand anymore. They all seem spooked. Everybody seems worried, they are all worried about stuff so much. I am not sure why they are worried, the players aren’t worried. Then it’s affecting everything else on the field.”

“Then I heard the English guy (Piers Francis) got off a suspension.

“Maybe the lights going out at the end is a bit of a symbol.”

The Wallabies came painfully close to stealing a win from the jaws of defeat, and Cheika suggested the stop-start nature of the match and TMO referrals didn’t help his sides’ chances.

“We certainly created a lot of momentum which continually got punctuated for one reason or another.

“We obviously believed in the players. It was a mighty effort across the 80 minutes but not to be.”

“I think we got a bit more go-forward in the second half.

“We had set-piece dominance that was sort of rewarded more in the second half than the first half. There were a lot of factors. There wasn’t one huge ‘why didn’t it happen in the first half, why did it happen in the second half’ type of thing.

“I think some bits and pieces in the game went right against us. I am not sure why we would be collapsing the scrum when we are going forward and the referee penalises us and then the linesman tells him (to change his decision). Those sort of things change momentum.”

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'As a rugby player, a former player, I am embarrassed'