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McKee takes issue with Cheika

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McKee finally issues his response about Cheika's 'spirit of rugby' criticism of Fiji

John McKee has had his say on Michael Cheika’s criticism about the Fiji coach referring Reece Hodge to the citing official after their Pool D match against Australia last Saturday. 

Hodge escaped sanction during the game in Sapporo for his collision with Peceli Yato but the winger has now been cited by John Montgomery (Scotland) for an act of foul play contrary to Law 9.13 (dangerous tackle) in the 25th minute off the pool match Australia came from behind to win 39-21.

The Australian will attend a hearing in Tokyo on Wednesday that will be heard by an independent judicial committee chaired by Nigel Hampton, QC (New Zealand), former international coach Frank Hadden (Scotland) and former referee José Luis Rolandi (Argentina).

McKee said after naming his Fijian side for Wednesday’s second pool game versus Uruguay: “I will make one comment about this and the only comment, so I won’t get any more questions. 

“First and foremost, the World Rugby guidelines are quite clear around head injury assessment. Everyone is very well aware of the head injury framework and how they will be dealt with by the match officials and citing official.

(Continue reading below…)

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“The process in the World Cup, it is the citing commissioner who cites people if they deem something could have been a red card offence and was missed on the field.

“In the citing official’s opinion, it’s a red card offence and it’s up to Australia Rugby to argue whatever they wish, and for the judiciary to decide.

“From our side, we lost a player who was nearly the most influential player on the park at that the time of the game for the rest of the game and because of the head injury, he can’t play in this game either.

“Maybe Michael Cheika’s views of what’s within the spirit of the game are slightly different to some other people, but it’s not up to me to decide what exactly he meant by that comment.”

Switching to the significance of featuring in the tournament’s first fixture at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, which has been built following the 2011 earthquake, McKee added: “It is certainly very important for international rugby to be brought back to the Kamaishi area and particularly the Rugby World Cup.

“For our players, we are aware of what happened eight years ago and there will be some thoughts to what happened in the past and also think ahead to how the area can get back on track.

“Even in the small time that I have been here during site visits, over two years I have seen a lot redevelopment. I remember my first site visit and it was pretty emotional. This site was just a building site and the whole area was devastated.

“To think of what happened when they had the tsunami and to see the redevelopment going on is quite incredible. Rugby is bigger than the game and it is important for our team to integrate with the community, which is why we have some people going to the community activity this afternoon.

“We make time to do that because, particularly in the areas such as this, to interact with the local people, it is good to mix the two cultures of Japanese and Fijian, but to also remember what has happened here.”

WATCH: Michael Cheika lashes out at Fiji for referring Reece Hodge over dangerous tackle

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McKee finally issues his response about Cheika's 'spirit of rugby' criticism of Fiji