KAMAISHI, Japan (AP) — A day after Michael Cheika accused him of being two-faced, Fiji coach John McKee claimed not to know what his Australian counterpart meant.
After their Rugby World Cup pool match last Saturday in Sapporo, Cheika said he and McKee had a great post-match wind-down, but he was disappointed that at no point did McKee tell him he was going to refer Wallabies winger Reece Hodge for a citing.
The next day, Hodge was cited for a dangerous, no-arms tackle on Fiji flanker Peceli Yato, who was concussed and didn’t return to play. Yato is also missing Fiji’s second pool game on Wednesday against Uruguay. Hodge has a hearing on Wednesday.
Cheika regarded McKee as being insincere, and the Fijians’ referral as going against “the spirit of rugby.”
McKee, speaking in Kaaishi, said he’d make only one comment so “I won’t get any more questions.”
“First and foremost, I think the World Rugby guidelines are quite clear around head injury assessment. Everyone is very well aware of the head injury framework and how they will be dealt with by the match officials and citing official,” he said. “The process in the World Cup, it is the citing commissioner who cites people if they deem something could have been a red card offence and was missed on the field. In the citing official’s opinion, it’s a red card offence and it’s up to Rugby Australia to argue whatever they wish, and for the judiciary to decide.”
McKee said it was a big setback for Fiji to lose Yato.
“From our side, we lost a player who was nearly the most influential player on the park at that the time of the game for the rest of the game, and because of the head injury he can’t play in this game either,” he said. “Maybe Michael Cheika’s views of what’s within the spirit of the game are slightly different to some other people, but it’s not up to me to decide what exactly he meant by that comment.”
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