Lifting in the spotlight after Folau citing

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies winger Dane Haylett-Petty has called into question lifting in open play, after fullback Israel Folau was cited over an aerial contest in Sydney.

Folau has been cited for a tackle in the air against Ireland, but it's not the contest for which he was sent to the sin bin.

Folau was yellow-carded in the 31st minute over a contest with Ireland skipper Peter O'Mahony, where the latter fell awkwardly and was stretchered off, but it was a kick-off contest earlier that caught the citing commissioner's eyes.

In both instances, O'Mahony was lifted by teammate CJ Stander, leaving him in a precarious place in the air, an issue Haylett-Petty suggested was more dangerous than any contact in the air.

"Being a player that's often in the air, you want to be protecting the players but I felt like last night that one-man lift, they're obviously putting their own player in danger there," he said.

"Any time there was any sort of contact in the air, he fell pretty badly. So, I feel like if anything we should be getting rid of that."

Israel Folau has had a mixed June Series. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyAerial contests have become a grey area under a World Rugby crackdown on player safety and it's an area that the Wallabies are vulnerable to be targeted in, with the weapon of Folau in the air used so often.

"I think obviously that's a huge strength for us and they're going to try and take that away from us," Haylett-Petty said.

"I feel like the fans probably want to see 15 on 15 and a good battle and it was, it was a great Test series and obviously we don't want to make any excuses.

"The Irish were really good and it could've gone either way in both those last two Test matches."

The Wallabies and Waratahs star was cited over the incident in the ninth minute, after 'placing his left hand on O'Mahony's chest' in the aerial battle.

“This action pulls O’Mahony over and he topples to the ground,' citing commissioner Michael O'Leary said.

Folau's actions were described as 'strikingly similar' to the contest for which he was yellow-carded.

Because he was carded during the match as well, Folau will have to front a disciplinary hearing later this week, with his availability for the Waratahs' crunch game against the Rebels under question.

Any possible suspension would be a major headache for the Waratahs, with Michael Hooper also set to miss the match with a hamstring strain.

Folau's aerial battles weren't the only speaking point after the game, with a controversial penalty going against hooker Tolu Latu, who put in his best international performance.

Latu was over the ball but was penalised for not releasing, despite a replay showing that he wasn't the tackler.

It was an incident he admitted was frustrating, but didn't decide the game.

"Looking back on it, I thought that I had all rights to the ball, so some calls you get and some calls you don't," he said.

"So, it's pretty frustrating to be honest, but just got to move on and try and move on from that and get things rolling again."

The Wallabies lost the third June Test in Sydney on Saturday night, 20-16, with Ireland taking the series 2-1 overall.