Michael Cheika slams referee for focussing on David Pocock

Australia head coach Michael Cheika
Australia head coach Michael Cheika

Australia head coach Michael Cheika slammed the match officials for focussing on David Pocock following their 39-21 win over Fiji in the opening round of the World Cup in Sapporo on Saturday.

Pocock, who is set to retire from international rugby at the end of the showpiece event played all 80 minutes during the game but his impact was reduced by the pressure exerted on the veteran flanker by the referees according to the Wallabies boss.

Cheika said he was surprised by the number of times Pocock's name was mentioned in the communication between New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe and his assistants.

“The stuff on the ground, I’m not quite sure what’s going on but the team of three were talking about David Pocock from the first minute of the game,” he said.

“I’m not sure what he’s done but there was some severe focus on him. I heard his name mentioned between them on the commentary at least half a dozen times in their own chat when he hadn’t even been involved in the ruck.”

The 52-year-old also insisted that the approach by the referee would not affect his approach to selection for the second-round clash against Wales in Tokyo next weekend.

Meanwhile, Fiji head coach John McKee played down the decision of referee O’Keeffe which could have resulted in a red card for Reece Hodge.

Hodge prevented Peceli Yato from crossing over close to the half-hour mark but was denied following no-arms challenge to the head by the Australian winger. Even though Fiji skipper Dominiko Waqaniburotu requested for a TMO, O’Keeffe deemed the tackle was legitimate.

“I haven’t seen footage of the incident yet, but maybe some people will look at it. We haven’t spoken to the TMO yet,” McKee said.

“The referee has a tough job out there. There’s a lot going on. We maybe didn’t get the rub of the green, but we have no complaints about the referee.

“We take a lot out of that game and we are still in this tournament. We will be watching how Wales and Australia go. We’re still in this tournament.”


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