Hanigan defends lifts as Waratahs await Folau appeal

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Waratahs forward Ned Hanigan doesn't want to see one-man lifts taken out of the game, as NSW awaits Israel Folau's appeals hearing over mid-air collisions.

Folau was suspended for one week by a World Rugby judicial committee on Wednesday, over his contact on Ireland skipper Peter O'Mahony in the third June Test. 

Rugby Australia made the call to appeal the decision almost immediately after it was handed down, with the appeal hearing scheduled for 8pm AEST Thursday. 

A new committee, consisting of chair Antony Davies (England), Beth Dickens (Scotland) and Olly Kohn (Wales), will hear the appeal via videoconference.

If Folau loses the appeal, he will miss Friday's pivotal Super Rugby clash with the Rebels.

The fullback was cited for a ninth-minute contest where he appeared to 'make contact with O'Mahony's chest'.

Israel Folau has had a mixed June Series. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyIn both that incident, another that Folau was yellow-carded for, and a third that was highlighted by the citing commissioner, O'Mahony was lifted by a teammate and left in a precarious position, falling awkwardly as a result of contact.

That has sparked debate over the safety of one-man lifts.

Hanigan said the responsibility of player safety was not solely in the hands of the lifter, but also in the opponent jumping to contest for the ball.

"Also, the onus on the bloke coming in," he said.

"You've got to approach him in a safe way.

"I think the issue with Israel is people are seeing a bit differently just because it's that grey area.

"I think if you've got a bloke who's genuinely not able to catch the ball and flying into a one-man lift, that's obviously what we don't want in our game, it's a safety reason, but if you've got a genuine contest and things do go wrong, so that's where the onus would come in on the lifter."

Ned Hanigan makes his starting Waratahs return. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyHanigan said he couldn't imagine rugby outlawing the one-man lift, and admitted the Folau decision would be an important one in the future of rugby.

"I can't see it not being in the game.

"That contest as a pod off a kickoff in particular where teams are seeing it, going, 'Oh we've got an extremely good athlete in the air',contest that part of the game.

"I think the issue at hand is he's genuinely going for the ball and it's the actions that he does when he's coming back to the ground, but the referees and adjudicators and the panel last night, and I think he's got an appeal later tonight, they'll finalise it and I honestly reckon it'll be a bit of a milestone or precedent to what will come in the future, with these types of issues."

Hanigan, who is no stranger to being lifted in play, said there was also an element of trust required in the person lifting you.

"I'm in one this week I think," he said.

"I guess it's, strategically, you can cover the field not having three blokes in one spot, compared to two, is a hell of an advantage and if you've got a prop behind you that can throw you up," he said.

"In terms of safety, you've got to back the bloke that he doesn't let you go. You just jump up there and back that he'll hang on to you."

Folau is likely to travel with the Waratahs to Melbourne for their Super Rugby match and join the hearing via teleconference, with Bryce Hegarty to come into the starting team should his appeal be dismissed.

Irae Simone would most probably come into the 23 if Folau were to miss a match over the incident.