Cheika: 'Folau pulled the collar, he didn't grab him by the hair'

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has lost his cool in his post-match press conference at an allegation star fullback Israel Folau pulled the hair of a South African player, despite evidence showing at one stage he did have a grip of the footballer's locks.

Meanwhile the player involved, Springboks winger Dillyn Leyds, has accused Folau of "100 per cent" pulling on his hair in an incident that prompted an all-in melee.

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said he didn't see any hair-pulling, while No.12 Kurtley Beale, who ran into back Folau up, added: "In the heat of the battle, players react. If I'm seeing my mate getting hammered or jumped on by the opposition, then I want to go and support him 100 per cent. Those things happen in games."

Speaking after his side's 27-27 draw with the Springboks, Cheika was clearly agitated at the suggestion Folau had pulled Leyds by the hair down to the ground in the 37th minute of the match.

Replays show Folau trying to grab Leyds by the collar before his hand slips off and grabs a chunk of hair in his right hand.

The incident looked nasty and even worse on replay but on-field referee Ben O'Keeffe decided a penalty to the Springboks would suffice.

SANZAAR could look into the matter to see whether Folau should be cited.

The incident would need to reach a red card threshold and if it did, Folau could be suspended for two to six weeks.

Pressed on the hair-pull, Cheika stood up for Folau, saying he was adamant there was no foul play involved.

"He [Folau] grabbed the guy around the collar, you've got to watch the vision," Cheika said. "He gets penalised, ok, that's a high tackle. He didn't come in and grab him by the hair. Have you played rugby mate?"

The reporter replied 'yes', before Cheika snapped back: "Have you ever tackled anyone by the hair? Exactly. Who tackles someone by the hair? Forget about it. It's a non-issue."

Cheika was also frustrated by the fact Springboks captain Eben Etzebeth came charging in at Folau after he had grabbed the South African player.

"The other bloke [Etzebeth] comes in and charges, doesn't get him with the elbow but it was angling that way but nothing is said about it," Cheika said. "He [Folau] didn't whack him with his forearm or anything. The other guy comes charging in, he's captain of the other team, elbow's up, he doesn't get him but if he does, what happens then?"

As for Leyds' view on the matter, he was certain Folau was in the wrong.

"100 per cent [it was] the hair," Leyds said. "He actually pulled me by the hair twice. He had one go at it and then he got his left hand on it and then he pulled me down and my hair again.

"I don't know what their version of the story is but I was 100 per cent pulled by the hair."

Springboks coach Allister Coetzee said: "I think the ref dealt with it. I've got nothing to say about it. We'll have a look at the video again and the necessary steps will be taken if there is steps to be taken."

Cheika was also asked about a clear forward pass in the 77th minute of the match that was not picked up on by the referee.

South Africa went up field shortly after and were awarded a penalty that five-eighth Elton Jantjies ultimately missed in the 80th minute.

Clearly biting his tongue, Cheika praised O'Keeffe but expressed his dissatisfaction at his overall performance.

"He's got an excellent temperament and he's only starting out in the tier one matches but there was some forward passes and knock-ons [he missed]," Cheika said. "The most disappointing thing for us is the goal that equalised the game, there's no doubt that [Pieter-Steph] du Toit is offside into that ruck.

"Then the other side when Michael [Hooper] makes a tackle on Jantjies he has a second grab at the ball when he's on the ground. He's playing the ball on the ground, there's kick right in front with three minutes to go. These are key moments. He's going to go a long way [though] ??? he's very good."

The story Cheika: 'Folau pulled the collar, he didn't grab him by the hair' first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop