A Kiwi rugby journalist has accused the Wallabies of resorting to illegal tactics in their shock thumping of the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup.
Few could have predicted the Aussies would register their highest-ever score against the Kiwis on Saturday night, romping to a 47-26 win in Perth.
The plaudits for the Wallabies have been flowing thick and fast, however New Zealand Herald columnist Patrick McKendry reckons there was something more sinister at play.
Writing for the Herald on Monday, McKendry claims to have spotted 14 “incredibly dangerous” instances of the Wallabies using illegal ‘neck rolls’ at the breakdown.
A neck roll involves a player taking an opponent down by grabbing their head and neck and rolling to the ground.
"This type of contact also applies to grabbing and rolling/twisting around the head/neck area even if the contact starts below the line of the shoulders," World Rugby's laws state.
A neck roll is an instant yellow card and can be red-carded depending on the severity.
McKendry said there was “an extremely obvious” one by James O’Connor right before Nic White streaked away to score in the second half (as you can see above).
Fans also thought they spotted it.
Shane about the neck roll in the build up to it that was ignored— Oliver Archer (@trombiker) August 10, 2019
Cool neck roll on Ioane there expect the red card any minute #AUSvNZL— Sam Durbin (@samdurbin) August 10, 2019
Neck roll by aussie in the ruck other side of the field too. Have to say refs have 0 control at rucks. Men in at the side everytime, all over the show the rucks are awful and someones going to get srriously injured before anything drastically changes for better— James Tyler🦁 (@Tyler_avfc) August 10, 2019
Right decision, let's just hope he's consistent, cause the odd late shoulder and neck roll have gone unseen in this game already #AUSvNZL— Logan (@obarium) August 10, 2019
The Kiwi scribe said it was particularly surprising that the Wallabies would use the tactic considering how Aussie talisman David Pocock has been targeted by neck rolls in the past.
“Maybe it's a case if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, because the Wallabies' ruck speed was mightily impressive at the weekend, the All Blacks saying afterwards they just couldn't slow the home side's ball,” McKendry wrote.
All Blacks star Sam Cane, who suffered a broken neck last year, said the Kiwis became aware of the Wallabies’ tactics after reviewing the game on video.
"I wasn't aware of it until I looked at my game yesterday but there were times when you'd get over the ball and you'd know you were in a good position and then for whatever reason you get taken off it," Cane said, according to The Herald.
"Sometimes it was because players were coming blatantly in from the side, sometimes it's those neck rolls. I'm not sure there's much you can do in the game.”
Fellow Kiwi writer turns on All Blacks
While the merits of the red card shown to Scott Barrett on Saturday night polarised the written press, there was consensus the Wallabies earned their record win and that a third straight World Cup title now provides coach Steve Hansen with his greatest challenge.
The task may be too steep, according to New Zealand Herald columnist Chris Rattue, who believes the ‘humiliated’ All Blacks have lost their aura.
Rattue contends the All Blacks have lost the fear factor forged under the leadership of Richie McCaw and will merely be in the peloton of contenders chasing the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.
"The yellow jersey was ripped up once and for all by men in yellow jerseys on Saturday night," Rattue wrote.
"A golden generation of extraordinary All Black players is at an end, while other countries are far better organised on the field even if the individual talent is still comparatively moderate."