John McKee, the Fiji head coach has responded to Michael Cheika’s remark that Fiji’s referral of winger Reece Hodge to the match citing official was not following the spirit of the game.
Hodge will now face a hearing in Tokyo on Wednesday after Fiji referred his first-half tackle on Peceli Yato. The tackle resulted in Yato’s leaving the field with concussion.
At the time of the incident in Saturday’s Pool D match, Fiji was leading and Yato was their standout player on the pitch. Hodge had scored in Australia’s next try as the Wallabies went on to win the game 39-21.
Cheika subsequently criticized McKee for effectively going behind his back had not raised it with him in their post-match chat. But as Fiji, without Yato, prepare to face Uruguay on Wednesday – while Hodge will be in front of the disciplinary committee – McKee questioned Cheika’s interpretation of the spirit of the game.
“Maybe Michael Cheika’s views of what’s within the spirit of the game are slightly different to some other people, but it’s not up to me to decide what exactly he meant by that comment,” McKee said.
In the citing official’s opinion, it’s a red card offense and it’s up to Australia Rugby to argue whatever they wish, and for the judiciary to decide.”
Meanwhile, McKee has inspired his players to relax at the beach to recover from their controversial loss to Australia before they face Uruguay on Wednesday.
“It was very good for our players to swim in the seawater and also it was very relaxing for them and it got their minds relaxed as well.”
Uruguay is ranked 19th in the world and playing in its first match of the tournament. This could be just the tonic for Fiji, who beat Los Tecos 68-7 last year. However, McKee knows their opponents will be more prepared this time around.
“We know Uruguay is a much-improved team now in the World Cup and we expect them to be a bit more physical,” he said.
“We expect them, typical of Uruguayan and South American teams, to use their forward pack as strength and we will have to be very on top of our game in terms of scrums and particularly around our maul defense.”