Wallabies legend Phil Kearns believes the All Blacks are getting a “free ride” from referees after some of the decisions made by match official Romain Poite in the third Bledisloe Cup Test on Saturday.
Kearns specifically took issue with referee Poite’s decision to send off Wallabies hooker Tolu Latu in the second half of New Zealand’s 37-20 victory in Yokohama.
Latu pushed his All Blacks opposite Codie Taylor in the face after retaliating to a shove in the shoulder from the latter.
Former Wallabies Test captain Kearns acknowledged Latu shouldn’t have retaliated but felt his actions didn’t deserve ten minutes on the sideline.
“That yellow card, I’ve got to say, I’m consistently frustrated — and I know world rugby is, the other teams except New Zealand — frustrated with the free ride New Zealand get from referees globally,” Kearns said on Fox Sports.
“Disappointing from Tolu. Yes, sure, he shouldn’t have done it but really, referees, get a grip, nothing happened, no-one was hurt, no-one was punched.
“It was just a little push and the other bloke pushed him first. I mean that whole thing just doesn’t make any sense,” Kearns continued. “Just get on with the game and that was part of my frustration, with the All Blacks getting a free ride. Get both of them off.”
Former Wallabies halfback George Gregan conceded that Latu has had issues with discipline.
“They’ve targeted him — Codie Taylor has really gone out of his way to create an inflammatory response and he got it,” Gregan said on Fox Sports.
“And played the ‘oh, look at that ref’ and fair play to him. That’s the attitude control, emotional control part of international rugby,” he said. “You’ve got to have that composure and he needs to learn that.”
The Wallabies will now regroup before embarking on their northern tour. Michael Cheika’s men have tests scheduled against Wales, Italy and England to close out the 2018 season.
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