Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson is not holding any grudges over Sekope Kepu’s suspension, as NSW prepares to play without the veteran prop against the Kings.
Kepu is serving a one-week suspension this week after accumulating three yellow cards this season, while Hurricanes star Beauden Barrett escaped sanction after three yellow cards for deliberate knockdowns in two weeks.
Because Barrett’s first two cards were against the Waratahs, including a 78th-minute offence deep in NSW attack, he was automatically referred to the judiciary and once let go without a suspension, his card count began again.
“A system’s a system and if I was sitting on the other side of that, I’d say the system was followed,” he said.
Gibson said the Waratahs had spoken to the referee after the game for an explanation.
“It was pretty influential at the time. We have spoken to the referee. The referee felt it wasn’t penalty try sufficient,” he said.
“I can understand that and can also understand how it could’ve been called a penalty try as well.”
Gibson described as ‘interesting’ a suggestion that Barrett’s moves could be part of a strategy, reportedly applauded by teammate Cory Jane after that clash a fortnight ago.
Kepu’s absence has opened the door for Angus Taavao’s return, who played 25 minutes for Norths last weekend in his first game since breaking his leg in the NRC last season.
Gibson admitted Taavao’s selection could be somewhat risky, given his long absence.
“Obviously if we have an early injury and he’s on quickly, we know he’s going to run out of gas,” he said.
“Angus is probably one of our fittest guys, he’s going to be a little bit underdone but he did well.”
Gibson is not making excuses for his team, despite injuries disrupting his backline especially.
“I’m not going to hide behind, ‘We didn’t have this player and that player’,” he said.
“At the end of the day, you send out 15 men in blue and they’re designed to do a job and we haven’t done that.”
The Waratahs mentor said he had noticed greater focus in the team’s Wallabies contingent after a national camp last week.
“Certainly think they’re far more focused on this half of the season for us and they know on the back of that and good form that they can potentially play for Australia,” he said.
“That’s certainly the goal of every team and the goal of my role here as New South Wales coach is I want our players to play for the national team.”
The Waratahs host the Kings on Friday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.