Wallabies confident Hodge will face Wales
NEWS: Michael Cheika is confident officials won’t want to make an example of Reece Hodge as the Wallabies wing prepares for a judicial hearing that will have implications for the rest of the World Cup.
Hodge will face his moment of truth on Wednesday, the hearing scheduled for later in the week than Australia wanted but were forced to propose, to ensure they have their chosen legal representative.
Cheika admitted he was biased but he believed a case could be mounted to ensure the wing is free to play in this Sunday’s pool game against Wales.
“Mate, I’m not planning for failure,” he said.
“I’ll plan to succeed there and then we’ll work it out from there.”
*Story continues below…
Hodge’s citing for a dangerous tackle on Fijian forward Peceli Yato during Australia’s victory in Sapporo has sparked widespread debate and his fate will attract global interest.
Those that believe a red card should have been issued now feel a ban is warranted for Hodge, whose tackle didn’t appear to involve Hodge’s arms and concussed Yato.
However, there is a contrasting view, espoused by Cheika, that the nature of the tackle is hard to determine and isn’t a “clear and obvious” red card offence – which is something that can now be challenged at the judiciary.
The division lines are just stark on what scope should be given to citing and judicial officials and whether a “feel for the game” should form part of any ruling.
Cheika wasn’t biting on suggestions the judiciary would hand down an overblown punishment to act as a deterrent for the tournament remainder.
A meeting with the referee and judicial bosses last week convinced him that won’t be the case.
“They talked a lot about understanding the empathy of the game as opposed to coming over with a big stick. That was their natural approach,” Cheika said.
The Wallabies have depth to cover Hodge’s absence although that doesn’t include uncapped outside centre Jordan Petaia, who is still recovering from the hamstring injury suffered four weeks ago in Noumea.
“Like everything on this trip, since the typhoon knocked us out trying to get here the first day, all the little obstacles that get in our way,” Cheika said.
“We’ll just deal with them and take things on the run and still look forward to the game that’s coming up this weekend.”