Friday’s rugby news has more McKenzie suspension talk, a drastically altered Wallabies side, a late change to the Scottish team and a Fijian IRB appeal.
Eight changes to Wallabies
A nightmare week for the Wallabies has necessitated sweeping changes to the side to play Scotland on Saturday. Six Wallabies have received a one-match ban for their breach of team protocols, outside centre Tevita Kuridrani has been suspended for five weeks and starting inside centre Matt Toomua is out with a hamstring injury. Australia has been forced to make eight changes, including four to the starting line-up.
Although the starting forwards remain unchanged, Saturday’s side will feature a new midfield pairing of inside centre Mike Harris and outside centre Christian Leali’ifano, along with a new wing pairing of Joe Tomane and Chris Feauai-Sautia. On the bench, prop Ben Alexander, back-rower Ben McCalman and backs Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley have all been promoted into the match-day squad.
Suspended six told to ‘suck it up’
Ewen McKenzie has told the suspended Wallabies players to ‘suck it up and get going’ at a team meeting yesterday. This comes after players have reacted to their portrayal in Australian newspapers, embarrassed by the image projected to their families. McKenzie emphasised the need for team solidarity, saying, ‘In the context of that, what can you do? Everyone can run off and look after themselves, or you can get together as a group and get on with it.’
Link also remained firm in his tough stance, saying that his players need to be professionals 100% of the time. ‘It doesn’t matter about the alcohol, it’s about as a high-performance athlete, getting your best day in day out so we can play our best game on the weekend,’ McKenzie said.
Scottish lock injured
Scotland coach Scott Johnson has been forced to make a change to the forward pack for Saturday’s clash with Australia. Lock Tim Swinson has aggravated a chest injury during Wednesday’s training and will be unable to compete. The Glasgow Warriors second-rower will be replaced by Grant Gilchrist, who earns his fourth international cap. Gilchrist’s place on the bench will be taken by Jonny Gray.
With winger Tommy Seymour recovering from a leg injury, the only change to the backs remains the promotion of Duncan Weir to five-eighth, preferred over his Warriors team-mate Ruaridh Jackson. Scott Johnson has stated that Saturday’s match will come down to which team can successfully take their chances, after disappointing errors allowed South Africa to run up a 28-0 drubbing last week.
Fiji plan referee complaint
Fiji have announced plans to lodge a formal complaint about Welsh referee Leighton Hodges, who handed the Pacific Islanders five yellow cards in the team’s Test match against Italy last week. FRU acting chief executive Berlin Kafoa said that the cards cost his team the match, at one point being reduced to 11 men, but he argues that the punishments resulted more from overzealous officiating than poor discipline.
‘We saw the tackles were fair and the five yellows was unfair on us,’ Kafoa said. ‘Our international referees in Fiji are now viewing the video footage and then we will write a complaint to IRB.’ Fiji’s five-card match gives them the record for most yellow cards by one team in an international game.