‘Free shot’: All Blacks offer view on ugly Bledisloe Cup incident
All Blacks duo Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith have given their take on the clean-out by Wallabies lock Darcy Swain that has left their team-mate Quinn Tupaea sidelined for months.
Swain was set to face the Sanzaar judiciary on Monday night after being sin-binned and then cited for the incident in New Zealand’s dramatic Bledisloe Cup win in Melbourne last week.
The Australian lock dived at Tupaea’s leg during a ruck, buckling the midfielder’s left knee inwards and rupturing his medial cruciate ligament.
All Blacks coach Ian Foster confirmed Tupaea would be out of action for at least three months.
Swain was shown a yellow-card, but Sanzaar had since said the citing commissioner believed the incident had met the foul play threshold for a red card.
New Zealand halfback Aaron Smith said while injuries happened in rugby, some could be controlled, while Barrett was also asked if the players had a view on what played out.
“Yeah we do, I thought it was … I feel for Quinn,” he told media in Auckland on Monday.
“He basically didn’t see it coming, he was a sitting duck and it was a bit of a free shot.
“I feel for him because he’s going to be out of game for long time. I’m not too sure what’s happening in their camp with Darcy Swain … we don’t like to see these sorts of injuries.”
Meanwhile, the experienced first-five was hopeful the controversial time-wasting call made at the end of the test in Melbourne might be a positive for the All Blacks going forward.
French referee Mathieu Raynal had been under-fire in Australia after making the decision against Wallabies first-five Bernard Foley, which allowed the visitors the chance to score the winning try in injury-time.
Barrett was asked, as a player often tasked with kicking penalties to touch, if it was something he would be more aware of.
“You’re always aware of the referee, they’re the ones in charge,” he said ahead of Saturday’s second Bledisloe test against Australia in Auckland.
“Yes, you play the game a little bit, you wait for that warning if you’re trying to run down the clock and you kick the ball out or play on, whatever it is.
“Yeah, of course, we’re the ones with the ball and if the ref asks us to get on with it we do.”
Barrett was also optimistic the call would be a sign of things to come from referees.
“As a fan you don’t want stoppages, you want to see a free-flowing game … fitter players should be rewarded by less stoppages and keeping the ball in play.
“Basically a better product of rugby. That suits me and suits New Zealand rugby, for sure, so hopefully we’re trending in the right direction.”
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