Waratahs stunned by citing, Hooper out for a month

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs forwards coach Simon Cron says he’d be ‘stunned’ if Israel Folau was suspended for NSW’s crunch Super Rugby match against the Rebels.

Folau is set to face a World Rugby disciplinary hearing, most likely to be on Wednesday, over his contact on Ireland skipper Peter O’Mahony in an aerial contest in the final June Test.

In both that incident and a contest for which Folau was yellow-carded, O’Mahony was being lifted by flanker CJ Stander, and let go, falling awkwardly.

Cron said he felt it would be somewhat of a ‘nanny state’ if Folau was rubbed out over the collisions.

“I'd be stunned if he's not available,” he said.

“Personally, I think it's an interesting decision to even send him there.

“They've made that call, so he'll go and defend himself. You probably saw it, personally I think if you're in the air and you're three foot off the ground, four feet off the ground, he's quite high off the ground.

“I would think they would look at their one-man lifting technique.

“I know we do a lot of it but I'd be surprised.

“It'd be a bit of a nanny state if they pull him.”

The decision to card Folau has been a controversial one, opening up a debate about contests in the air and Cron was adamant something needed to be done to maintain the ability to compete in the air.

“At the end of the day, it's hard to make decisions too much in the air around the contact zone but my understanding of the law is when you're both competing for the ball, you're both competing for the ball,” he said.

“When two guys are in the air competing for the ball, you're competing for the ball.

“The only way around that is maybe we change the sport so you're not allowed to leave the ground and turn it into Under 12s, I'm not sure.”

Michael Hooper watches on after suffering a hamstring injury. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyWhile the Waratahs do not know whether Folau will be lining up for them, captain Michael Hooper is definitely out of the clash, likely to miss a month with a hamstring injury.

“I know our physios are working with the Wallabies physios around the time frames and from what I understand it's minimum this stage four weeks,” Cron said.

“We'd hope to have him back in our finals series ideally. It's very early, so they'll keep working through it.”

Hooper has not missed a Waratahs match in six seasons with the club, and in fact hasn’t missed a Super Rugby game since he was at the Brumbies in 2011, and hooker Damien Fitzpatrick said it would be strange playing in a team without him.

“It's definitely going to be a different feeling not having him playing for the Waratahs because it hasn't happened before, but at the same time he's confident in the guys around him in that position, he's prepared them really well and they've prepared well,” he said.

“It'll be exciting to see who gets that seven role and then obviously who gets an opportunity to lead the side.”

Will Miller would be most likely to start in place of Hooper at seven, while Ned Hanigan is an option at six.

The Waratahs take on the Rebels on Friday night at AAMI Park, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.