Wallabies query Ireland blocking tactics

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies will be seeking clarity from referees over the tactics used to curb Israel Folau in Melbourne, attack coach Stephen Larkham says.

Folau wasn’t able to have the impact in the air that he did in Brisbane, with multiple Irish runners blocking his path on kick-chase, with Larkham suggesting some of those tactics should be examined by officials.

Though he admitted Australia’s kicking game was not on point on Saturday, Larkham said they would be seeking some extra explanation about the legality of those blocks.

“I guess it's in our hands, it's something that we have to sit down with the referees and discuss,” he said.

“For us I think it's two-fold - it's one, getting the kicks accurate so our chasers aren't running between two or three guys and then two, obviously bringing it to the referees' attention just to make sure everything is legal.”

Though it was clearly an effective tactic for Ireland, Larkham said he didn’t expect it to catch on.

“I think if I look at some of the escorting lines or blocking lines that Ireland put in on the weekend, they used two or three players and it seemed quite specific that they were out there trying to impede Israel's run,” he said.

“When you're starting to put two players in one position, it obviously opens up a lot of space on the field so I'm not too concerned that every other team will copy this because there are certainly downsides to it, but we certainly need clarification before the weekend.”

Larkham said they had no complaints about calls that went against them, but the Australians also had questions about  some off-the-ball incidents and Ireland’s approach at the breakdown.

Stephen Larkham and the Wallabies have queried Ireland's tactics. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyLarkham said the Wallabies were approached pre-game about their off-the-ball tackles in the first Test, and suggested their might need to be another meeting this week, after an off-the-ball hit left Will Genia with a broken arm.

“There was a particular reference to that before the game from the referees towards us, so it was a little bit disappointing that the referees...as a group of four missed some of the off-the-ball stuff, which was quite significant,” he said.

“They'd identified some issues out of the first game for us, which we addressed through the week.

“They were spot on but I guess, being conscious there as referees then that it happened on both sides of the ball."

There will be at least one change to the Wallabies’ 23 this weekend, with Will Genia (arm) forced out, and Nick Phipps likely to start in Sydney, but Larkham said that mightn’t be their only tweak.

“It's time now to give some other guys an opportunity,” Larkham said.

“I think some guys who came off the bench played exceptionally well, obviously Nick Phipps had a really good game when he came off the bench, and there's been some guys who have been training exceptionally well over the last couple of weeks as well.

“I think coming up against the second-best team in the world, with their strongest team on the paddock and we're going to make a few changes this week, so it'll be really good to see the result for the guys this week.”

Wallabies prop Allan Alaalatoa and lock Adam Coleman trained separately early on in the team’s Monday session, with Caleb Timu sitting out the squad’s running.

The Wallabies take on Ireland in the third June Test on Saturday June 23, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.