Wallabies coach hits out at ABs star in haka controversy

Publish Date
Friday, 23 September 2022, 10:37AM

By Kris Shannon

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has hit out at Rieko Ioane for "mouthing off" during the first test, saying the All Blacks midfielder accused Australia of disrespecting the haka.

Rennie was typically forthright on a number of topics after naming his team for the second Bledisloe Cup clash at Eden Park on Saturday, adding further spice following a contentious opener in Melbourne.

The Kiwi said World Rugby had agreed with the Wallabies' concerns about the time-wasting incident that allowed the All Blacks to escape with victory, while also expressing his disappointment over prop Fletcher Newell escaping sanction for a clean out on Scott Sio.

But Rennie reserved his strongest comments for Ioane, raising without provocation what he viewed as "odd" actions from the All Black.

The Wallabies, like many opposing sides, responded to the haka before the first test by grouping together and advancing. While those actions created no apparent controversy at the time, Rennie today revealed that Ioane had taken exception.

"Rieko Ioane had a lot to say to our boys after the final try, mouthing off at Folau Fainga'a around disrespecting the haka," Rennie said. "Which is a bit odd because as New Zealanders would know, when a team does a haka, you respond with a haka.

"We don't have the luxury of having a haka so our response is in the boomerang shape and to move forward. They've thrown down a challenge and we're accepting it.

"That's our reply. It's how we respond. I was just a bit surprised that he thinks it's disrespectful. Is the expectation that we just stand there and they throw a challenge at us and we do nothing? Just take it?

"We think it's a very respectful way of responding, and it's unique to us because of the boomerang shape. We won't be stopping that."

Such a response, if it does in fact anger the All Blacks, will only enhance what Rennie described as the theatre of test match rugby on Saturday night.

So, too, would the coach's view that Newell should have faced sanction over a clean out that left Sio with a hamstring injury that him ruled him out of the second test.

The Wallabies raised the incident with the judiciary as part of Darcy Swain's defence over his reckless hit on Quinn Tupaea, one that saw the All Blacks midfielder suffer a serious knee injury and saw Swain banned for six weeks.

Rennie continued to deny that Swain's actions were malicious but did concede the punishment was appropriate. His chief qualm, though, was over the perceived double standard.

"I hear [the All Blacks] are fuming," Rennie said about Tupaea's injury. "We're not that excited about Fletcher Newell's clean out on Scott Sio, which sees him out for three weeks, and he didn't even get cited or carded during the game. As part of our defence we used that, and [the judiciary] mentioned he should have been cited as well.

"We're not happy, neither is Darcy – he's not happy with the action, not happy with the result, but it's not malicious. He's been punished and six weeks is a hefty punishment, I reckon, and obviously fitting. But like I say, Fletcher Newell, he gets to live another day."

Newell was left out of the All Blacks squad for the second test at Eden Park, where the Wallabies would be hoping for a measure of revenge after feeling aggrieved over the way the first test ended.

Rugby Australia lodged a formal complaint with World Rugby over referee Mathieu Raynal's decisive time-wasting call, and Rennie said their objections were heeded.

"We've obviously been in contact with World Rugby around it and they agreed with our concerns," he said. "We're just at a stage where we're going to move on. We sought a bit of clarity, we've got that. It's not going to help us win at the weekend."

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you