Wallabies vice-captain Samu Kerevi says he’d like to see players have more of a say on laws in the game after a fortnight in which controversial refereeing calls have dominated the World Cup dialogue.
Kerevi was penalised for a “dangerous” fend on Welsh back Rhys Patchell in Australia’s loss to Wales on Sunday and said post-match that he “might as well go to NRL” with the way the sport was being policed.
On Monday morning, he was quick to take the blame away from “high-pressured” referees but said he felt players should have a larger contribution when it came to developing these laws, with decisions often having to be made in split seconds on the field.
World Rugby’s much-talked about high tackle framework was developed off the back of research and new laws are generally introduced by the organisation’s Rugby Committee.
England player Rachael Burford is currently the player representative on World Rugby’s Rugby Committee while former Ireland player Jamie Heaslip is also in that group.
“Yeah, you’d think so,” he said when asked whether players deserved a bigger say in laws developed for their well-being.
“At the end of the day you’ve got to understand from a player’s point of view, the way the referee explained it to me, in those milliseconds I’ve got to move my arm from just running to tucking it down.
“What do I do if I don’t have my arms up? Is his shoulder going to go into my head?
“How am I to keep myself safe? I’m literally just holding onto the ball and just running, in that position, in that situation.
“I guess they would have past players talking about the ruling and that but that’s out of my hands.
“I’m just here to play footy. I really just want to contribute all the positive things I can to the team.”
Kerevi said initially he didn’t even realise the TMO was reviewing his part in he incident, believing they were looking at a potential high tackle from Patchell.
"The boys thought it was the tackle at first but I was like, 'no, it wasn't high or anything'. I felt fine,” he said.
“When I realised they were looking at me it kind of shocked me, the first time I am getting looked at for running the ball.
“But it's all good like, I was just hoping I wasn't going to get a card and let the team down.”
In the hours since the match, comparisons were drawn between Kerevi’s fend and a Beauden Barrett fend on South African Cheslin Kolbe, which wasn’t punished in any way.
So far in the tournament, five players have been cited for dangerous tackles with Wallabies winger reece Hodge, Samoan duo Rey Lee-Lo and Mato Matu’u and USA’s John Quill all being suspended for three weeks.
England centre Piers Francis was also cited but was on Sunday night cleared to play, with the judiciary deeming his offence only worthy of a yellow card.
In the weekend’s Tonga-Argentina game, Tonga appealed for penalty try after an apparent shoulder charge by Pumas forward Tomas Lavanini but the TMO deemed it was a fair tackle.
Super slow-mo, that’s not a wrap! Lavanini’s right arm briefly strokes Halaifonua’s chest, but all the contact is shoulder. Penalty, PT, 7-points. pic.twitter.com/ju9ArUCezA— England Rugby Pod (@EnglandRugbyPod) September 28, 2019
World Rugby are believed to have privately confirmed to Tonga that that decision was incorrect but no further action was taken.
Kerevi said a lack of consistency when it came to these decisions was frustrating for players but said the call wouldn’t change his approach to attack.
“I’m just trying to do what’s best for the team and obviously trying to get over the ad line and I don’t think it’s me changing the way I run,” he said.
“I think I have to get a clearer ruling on how we are meant to run. I’ve seen other examples of that, I’ve seen the way Beaudy ran at Kolbe and players understand, that’s sport.
“Like I said last night, it’s a collision sport, so players are not taking it badly. It was a good run by Beaudy and I thought, myself, last night I was only trying to get over the ad line as well.”
With so much action at the judiciary, the opening stages of the World Cup have been dominated by discussions about refereeing and Kerevi said he hoped that balance would change.
"Look, I understand you guys have to do a job and talk about the juicy stories but I just want to get back to rugby, especially like Japan-Ireland game. How good was that? That's what rugby's all about," he said.
"I get you guys are just doing your job and that's fine but it's just tough because we are always talking about the referees and it's not all on them.
"I guess it's the ruling around it and they've got to enforce the law and keep safety."
Australia takes on Uruguay on Saturday October 5, kicking off at 2:15pm local, 3;15pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Network Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO, Rugby Xplorer and Amazon Alexa.