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Mon 3 Aug 2020 | 01:36

All Black star comes under scrutiny for 'soccer' stunt

All Black star comes under scrutiny for 'soccer' stunt
Mon 3 Aug 2020 | 01:36
All Black star comes under scrutiny for 'soccer' stunt
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REACTION: All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith has been in sublime form in Super Rugby Aotearoa but his actions have come under the microscope after ‘pulling a hollywood’.

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With Blues prop Karl Tu’inukuafe trying to get out of the way, Smith took off from the base of the ruck and ‘tripped’ over the big man who happened to be in an offside position.

As the play unfolded, two passes later Blues flank snatched a long pass and ran 70-metres the other way to score under the posts. After some incessant badgering to the ref, the TMO was called to take a look at the play involving Smith.

As a result, the Blues try was rubbed out and the Highlanders were awarded a penalty.

The Blues eventually secured a 32-21 win over the Highlanders.

However, Smith’s role in milking the situation was widely condemned online, led by former All Black prop Wyatt Crockett who said it was ‘not in the spirit of the game’. Other fans were livid, calling the decision ‘disgraceful’ and ‘bulls***’.

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Meanwhile, Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger fended off Crockett’s assertion that Smith’s theatrics aren’t “in the spirit of our game”.

“He’s influenced the attack,” the former All Blacks flyhalf said of Tu’inukuafe being caught in Smith’s running line.

“We had them under the pressure at that time, so I thought it was the right call.”

By contrast, Blues boss Leon MacDonald refrained from speaking out against the officials’ call, despite it going against his side’s fortunes.

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“Yes, well, I would have liked the try to be awarded, absolutely,” he said.

“Talking about those sort of moments in the game, refs always call them as they see them.

“We’ve moved on pretty quickly and we were able to regain the lead and hold it, so it didn’t become too big a deal in the end.”

MacDonald added that he thought Fraser and his assistant “did a great job out there”, noting how tough of a job it can be as a whistleblower.

Outmuscled by the Blues’ bruising forward pack, Mauger revealed the Highlanders’ game plan involved trying to use the ball quickly in an attempt to run their opponents’ big men off their feet.

Asked whether the offside call against Tu’inukuafe was a result of the home side’s high-tempo style of play, Mauger said: “We did have them under pressure and that’s where we were really looking to kick on, but they managed to slow us up when they needed to.

“We weren’t able to get into that flow when we wanted to.

“We were talking about overspeed and it just didn’t quite happen for us, but it was the breakdown we talked about before [the match], us being a little bit faster there.

“Their tactics at the breakdown [were] to try and slow us up, and I think you’ve got to give them a lot of credit.

“They did a good job, they deserve their win.”

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All Black star comes under scrutiny for 'soccer' stunt | Rugby365