NSW Waratahs forwards Tolu Latu and Will Skelton and one of their potential Super Rugby opponents next week, have all been hit with alleged foul play citings after being involved in lifting tackles.
Hooker Latu and lock Skelton were both cited for their involvement in a tackle on Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock in the 17th minute of Saturday’s match at ANZ Stadium.
Latu was given a yellow card at the time and Skelton went unpunished, but upon review the citing commissioner deemed that the alleged action of both men met the red card threshold for foul play.
Any suspension would rule them out of at least the first game of the Waratahs South African trip against the Lions in Johannesburg next weekend.
A few hours after the game in Sydney later, Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee was hit with the same alleged foul play citing as Latu and Skelton following an incident in the match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Like the two Waratahs, Coetzee was cited for contravening law 10.4 (I) which refers to lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the players head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play.
Coetzee was given a yellow card at the time.
If Latu was banned it would mean the Tahs might have to resort to starting with their third-string hooker, Hugh Roach and pluck someone out of club rugby as his backup.
Last week Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said their leading hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau would not be taken to South africa to give him another couple of weeks to recover from his second bout of concussion this season.
News of Latu and Skelton’s citings could have been an unpleasant surprise for Cheika, who after the game felt neither man was likely to get into trouble.
“The match officials were all there and they took a long look.” Cheika said.
“He (Whitelock) didn’t land on his head.
“It was an awkward combination of the two, they were trying to hold him up for the maul, one was up top.
“Sometimes it just happens, so I wouldn’t expect that anything was going to happen.
If Skelton is suspended, Cheika will have another quality lock to call upon, with former Wallaby Dean Mumm linking up with the Waratahs in South Africa.
Mumm is heading there from Europe after completing his English club commitments.