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O’Connor won’t discuss Hewat


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Lote Tuqiri will not be disciplined for his telephone conversation with Wallaby selector Michael O’Connor who divulged in no uncertain terms his harsh view on Waratahs fullback Peter Hewat’s playing abilities.

The conversation was heard, via loud-speaker, by Hewat who was excluded from the original 59-man Wallabies squad.

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chairman Peter McGrath called for a review of the incident.

Wallaby management appointed a team discipliniary committee in Sydney on Sunday, and the committee, which comprised of coach John Connolly, manager Phil Thomson and players Dan Vickerman and Scott Staniforth decided that there would be no need for any action to be taken against Tuqiri.

Tuqiri, however, would, for conditioning reasons, miss the two upcoming Welsh Tests.

Meanwhile the ARU has confirmed that O’Connor will not be allowed to discuss Peter Hewat in selection meetings.

This was confirmed by High Performance manager Pat Howard to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“That is not a team disciplinary issue,” Wilson said when referring to O’Connor.

“It is a management issue. Michael is a highly credible individual, and has contributed significantly to Australian rugby. Michael has a number of conversations with players across a number of issues. But it’s standard policy that selectors don’t talk to any player about another player.

“Michael knows that. We’ve reminded Michael again, as we did Lote, the standards of behaviour and the expectations under the policy. Michael will not be involved in future discussions on Peter Hewat at the selection table.”

Connolly said the Wallabies management originally spoke to Tuqiri about the issue last Monday.

“We told him how unhappy we were, and we decided then that was the end of the issue,” Connolly said.

“Later in the week the ARU chairman wanted a review of it, and we couldn’t immediately do that because we did not have a team disciplinary committee in place as we had just come into camp.

“That committee was appointed on Saturday, and it met today, supporting the original decision. We originally thought it was a minor issue and our view hasn’t changed. Still, everyone realises it was a silly thing to do.”

Tuqiri said as far as he and the team were concerned, the issue was over.

“It’s been dealt with. I’m now just going to get on with footy. It’s all over red rover from this end,” Tuqiri said.

Asked if he had been encouraged by Hewat to contact O’Connor, Tuqiri sad, “I don’t really want to say anything about that. Enough has been said about it.

“People who were there know what happened.”

Hewat, to the surprise of many, has been chosen to share the Australia ‘A’ fullback spot with Clinton Schifcofske in the opening Pacific Cup matches.

And even Connolly has not discounted the prospect of Hewat gaining a long-awaited Test cap.

“We have an issue at fullback, and if he [Hewat] tips the world upside down, well, you never know,” Connolly said.


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