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'It baffles me that we're talking about this': Wallabies legend's plea

By AAP
Chris Latham. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

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Wallabies great Chris Latham has lamented the current state of rugby, saying overzealous officials are “killing the game”.

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Twenty-five penalties were blown in the Queensland Reds’ stop-start defeat of the Fijian Drua a fortnight ago.

A week later Taniela Tupou escaped the wrath of the officials who reviewed his physical clean-out of Jahrome Brown in a tight loss to the Brumbies, only to be retrospectively charged with a red-card offence and offered a two-week suspension.

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A Sanzaar review committee determined Tupou had made high contact with Brown, before the Reds successfully fought to throw out the charge at Wednesday night’s judiciary hearing.

Retired fullback-turned-coach Latham said the episode was another cause of frustration distracting from the spectacle of Saturday’s home game against the NSW Waratahs.

 

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“Yes (it’s frustrating) … I can understand the health and safety aspect, and the mental health of players after football,” he said. “But from a pure rugby point of view, we’re really killing the game with all these stoppages.

“And this one, cleared by video ref, the referee, the commentary team are experts in the game, they cleared it.

“Yet we still want to keep dragging it through.

“It baffles me that we’re talking about this during the week of one of the biggest games of the calendar, sweating on the outcome of one of the most high-profile players in Australia. It’s ridiculous.”

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Latham invited the referee to put the whistle away on Saturday night in a nod to the old school as the competition celebrates Heritage Round.

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“You want fatigue to set in. [When I played] I wanted the big boys to be tired, wanted to be running around them,” Latham, who scored 40 test tries, said.

“You want it tight, contested and then the smart rugby to come out in the back end of the game. That’s when you see the beauty, free-flowing stuff we love to watch.

“With all these stoppages it just changes the way we’re promoting the game. You pay a lot of money to watch a game of footy, you want to put on a show, not see players sitting around watching a replay [on the big screen].”

The Reds will welcome back Wallabies scrumhalf Tate McDermott from an ankle injury in the only change.

Set to re-sign with Rugby Australia and the Reds until 2024, Jordan Petaia will wear the fullback’s No 15 for a third-straight game.

– Murray Wenzel

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