By Nick Mulvenney
TOKYO (Reuters) – Disappointed Wallabies centre Samu Kerevi said he might have to look at switching to rugby league if the union game is going to penalise the way he carries the ball into the tackle.
Wales were awarded a penalty when Kerevi was adjudged to have led with his forearm and made contact with the throat of flyhalf Rhys Patchell in their 29-25 victory over Australia in Sunday’s Rugby World Cup Pool D blockbuster.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was furious at the decision, saying as a former player he was “embarrassed” by it, while Kerevi said he might have to move to Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL), where his style of ball-carrying is commonplace.
“I play hard, I was just trying to get through them, I guess,” Kerevi said after the match.
“The way I connected is not reasonable in the eyes of the ref. That’s just the ruling of it I guess, that’s the way rugby’s heading, I guess.
“It’s just disappointing, because I’ve been doing that my whole career. To get penalised, I was really down in the dumps, because I felt like I let the team down.
“Three points is crucial here in test footy, especially at the World Cup. Really disappointed, mostly with myself, I respect the ref’s ruling, and I might just have to have look at the NRL,” he added.
Patchell kicked the resulting penalty and Wales scored an intercept try two minutes later, leaving Australia 23-8 down at halftime and in a hole they were unable to dig themselves out of despite a stirring second-half comeback.
Australia’s next match is against Uruguay on Saturday in Oita and while they should win and qualify for the quarter-finals comfortably, the Wales defeat was a hammer blow to their hopes of topping the pool.
That means, barring a series of stunning upsets, the twice World Cup winners will be in the half of the knockout-stage draw likely to contain in-form England and world champions New Zealand.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; editing by Darren Schuettler)