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Australians are quite right to be complaining about Samipeni Finau

Samipeni Finau of New Zealand charges forward during The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australia Wallabies at Forsyth Barr Stadium on August 05, 2023 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

If I’m a little bloke, who’s not in possession of the ball, I shouldn’t expect to get cleaned up by Samipeni Finau.

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It’s pretty evident that the Chiefs’ blindside flanker can hit. And, as any rugby player knows, they’re not the guys you want to run at.

But as Finau’s body of work builds, a trend is developing of him collecting guys late.

If Finau wants to return to the All Blacks’ fold, we can’t have that.

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Penalties and cards have the potential to decide test matches and Finau appears a candidate for both right now.

Rugby is a contact sport and, as we seek to minimise head contact in particular, we’ve lessened the target area for tacklers.

Finau seems to be hitting the target just fine. He’s wrapping his arms and keeping his shoulder away from people’s chins.

It’s just that some of the people he’s hitting have already passed to a support player.

Forgive me if I’m wrong about that, but the vision seems pretty conclusive.

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Except maybe for those blinded by their New Zealand eyepatch.

I see and read that they’re whinging about Finau in Australia because their Super Rugby Pacific franchises don’t possess a hitter of his calibre.

That the types of tackles he’s affecting are commonplace in rugby league, for instance, and that Finau is the long-awaited successor to the great Jerome Kaino.

All right, let’s pick that apart a bit.

When I think of Kaino, I think of him lurking down a blindside. I see a man of similar stature carrying the ball towards him and that player being levelled.

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In my mind’s eye, I don’t see Kaimo flying out of the line to hit a little bloke who’s not holding the ball anymore.

This type of hit was once a staple of the NRL, as retired halfback Andrew Johns well knows.

A neck injury forced Johns to give the game away prematurely, partly as a result of being blindsided by late hits.

As any fan of the Sydney Roosters knows, the laws have been changed to try and eliminate playmakers being hit without the ball. Nevertheless, Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is penalised for that offence most weeks.

The point is, though, that penalties do now exist for hitting guys who’ve passed the ball, as well as support players who were once routinely taken out on the suspicion – as they often referred to it – that they were about to receive the football.

If rugby folk in Australia are complaining about Finau, I think they’re doing it with some justification.

I admire his ability to hit and I commend the height at which he’s doing the hitting, I’m just dubious about his timing.

The game needs to protect players who are no longer in possession of the ball and I’d hope that, if Finau comes down on the wrong side of this fine line, he’s penalised appropriately.

In the meantime, a bit of coaching is required where Finau is concerned.

The highlights, if you can call them that, are out there. Opponents know he has the power and technique to whack them.

In that regard, running the ball at Finau has already become something people will shy away from.

But, if he is to be a legitimate weapon in the Chiefs’ and All Blacks’ arsenal, then the timing is critical.

Finau’s no good to any team on the sideline and you certainly wouldn’t want to see any opponent seriously hurt.

Thanks to one or two Aussies crying foul, there’s no doubt Finau’s technique and timing have now caught the attention of referees and Television Match Officials.

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Comments

31 Comments
I
Isaac 73 days ago

except ot wasnt late wasnt late at all so dont know why you all saying its late he commits early and its your fault fir not paying attention

L
Liam 75 days ago

Waawaawaaaaaaaa

j
john 76 days ago

Karma is a powerful force

A
Alister 76 days ago

The problem is the officiating & changing rulings,& TMOs.Last weekend I saw a 9 penalized for a crooked scrum feed! the last time I saw that rule applied was In about 1975!!!!!!!!.Late or not the incident is history & Australians alleging that Kiwi rugby supporters wear eye patches is a bit rich.Try listening to Australian Commentators.Every new player who has an above average game is suddenly the next great sensation.

N
Nickers 76 days ago

Finau is definitely operating on razor thin margins. He hasn’t done anything wrong… yet.

But a player going into contact 6 inches lower than he is expecting, without him even knowing, will end in disaster. You can imagine a situation where the pass dies on Edmed and he has to bend down a little lower to catch it at the last second. Finau’s hit would have been catastrophic. The margins are just too fine.

He needs to study how PSDT, at 6’7”, manages to drop his tackle height and exert just as much force with close zero danger of taking someone’s head off.

Given how poorly NZ has adapted to lower their tackle height, and that this issue which has plagued the ABs for years and played a big part in them not winning the World Cup, I thought NZR and all SR coaches would be prioritising sorting this issue out.

If I was Razor I would be on the phone to Clayton MacMillan and Samipeni Finau saying exactly that.

Finau is a monster and shaping up to be the closest thing to Kaino since Kaino, but I wouldn’t risk selecting him for the ABs at the moment.

M
Manu 76 days ago

Never read such tripe. He was hit just as he passed the ball which was reviewed and deemed legal by yes the Australian TMO and referee

J
Jasyn 76 days ago

Well let’s hope world rugby doesn't read some of this nonsense, because next on the agenda will be…“players will only tackle other players deemed to be in their weight class, and only with moderate velocity”.

s
sam 76 days ago

Great point. It would be terrible to have a card for poor tackling cost the all blacks a world cup. Oh hi all blacks captain Sam Cane, how you going?

D
David 77 days ago

well maybe he needs to be introduced to darcy swain then who never got anything much and put a cheifs ands allblack player out injured and made him miss a season recovering

d
dave 77 days ago

2 out of 3 were perfect. TMOs love jumping in on anything outside the law. The fact they saw nothing wrong speaks volumes. You want to see what a late blindside hit looks like, watch Kepu take out Carter in the 2015 World Cup final. Completely different to the Tah’s tackle.

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