Rugby Championship News

Lyons defends ‘cheating’ McCaw





Richie McCaw found an unlikely ally in the shape of Wallabies back-rower David Lyons, who leapt to the besieged All Blacks captain’s defence in the face of ‘cheating’ claims.

South African captain Johann Muller was fuming after his side’s 6-33 Tri-Nations loss to the All Blacks in Christchurch last Saturday when the visitors had their flanker Pedrie Wannanberg sent to the sin bin for playing the ball on the ground.

McCaw was earlier penalised for the same offence in his own quarter – but not given a yellow card by referee Stuart Dickinson.

Muller said that McCaw had been made a protected species by referees and they were too scared to send him to the sin bin.

However, Lyons – who was named at No.8 for Saturday night’s Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup decider at Auckland’s Eden Park – said McCaw was only doing what quality openside flankers were supposed to do; walk a fine line when it comes to the rules.

“The thing about the good Seven’s (openside flankers) is that they play on the edge all of the time and all of them at sometime will be criticised by different people so you’ve got to expect that,” Lyons told AAP.

“Richie is a great player.”

Wallabies coach John Connolly agreed with Lyons on McCaw’s talent – but he wasn’t so assertive when asked if the All Blacks skipper intimidates referees.

“I’m not sure, I hope not,” Connolly said.

Just to make certain, Connolly said he would have a chat with Welsh referee Nigel Owens about McCaw before Saturday’s match.

“We’ll talk to the referees, but the referees do their homework these days and I think Richie McCaw is a great player, but he plays very close to the wind,” Connolly said.

“The issue with Richie is that he does roll around the other side and slides around the side of scrums and he gets away with what he can and that’s fine.

“We’d like the referee to look at it closely and we’ll probably raise it of course but not to any great level.”

The Australian coach said there would be no shortage of talent in the openside flanker ranks on Saturday night with McCaw lining up against George Smith.

“We’ve probably got two of the best opensides (flankers) in the world playing on the weekend and a guy like Phil Waugh on the bench who isn’t that far behind.”
365 Digital

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