‘What you permit, you promote’: Reds slam late ‘cheap shot’, HMP set to start ahead of Lynagh in Rebels grudge match


As Les Kiss prepares to hand Harry McLaughlin-Phillips his first start against the Rebels, the experienced coach called on Super Rugby officials to make a stand and protect the playmakers in the competition after Tom Lynagh was smashed late in a tackle during their win over the Chiefs last weekend.

Nor is he the only high profile player likely to come off the bench, with Jordan Petaia expected to return as a finisher after missing last week with a concussion.

The Roar also understands Hunter Paisami won’t be rushed back either, with Isaac Henry firming to start.

The Reds could also tweak their tight-five after a taxing opening three weeks to the competition, with George Blake likely to come onto the bench for Sef Fa’agase.

Lynagh was hammered by Samipeni Finau in the 45th minute in an incident that drew a penalty.

But many were perplexed the incident didn’t draw a yellow card, with the Chiefs blindside flanker hitting the 20-year-old well after he distributed the ball.

More importantly, why was Tom Lynagh not removed for assessment as a precaution after two enormous collisions within moments of each other? https://t.co/ra6JemJpsp

— Progressive Rugby (@ProgressiveRug) March 12, 2024

At the time, former Wallabies Morgan Turinui and Tim Horan were shocked the tackle didn’t move New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe to send the flanker to the sin bin.

“It’s very late,” Turinui said in commentary on Stan. “Normally we’re so obsessed with high tackles, anything that’s not high anymore we don’t seem to look at.”

Horan added: “Yes it’s a good shot but it’s so late that it should be a yellow card.”

On Monday, former Wallaby turned coach Stephen Hoiles said the tackle was a “cheap shot”.

“In this day and age, why is that not a yellow? I know there’s framework, but that’s dangerous, mate,” Hoiles said on Between two Posts.

“That was a cheap shot and that’s a yellow card every day of the week.

“For all the time and effort the game is putting into player safety… I don’t think anyone would have objected if that was a yellow card.

“You’ve got to protect the guys, especially when they’re passing or kicking.”

Watch every match of Super Rugby Pacific ad-free, live & on demand on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport

Tom Lynagh reacts after copping a late tackle from Chiefs back-rower Samipeni Finau at Suncorp Stadium, on March 09, 2024, in Brisbane. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Kiss said Super Rugby officials had acknowledged the tackle could have been dealt with more harshly and called on the game’s officials to ensure playmakers were looked after in vulnerable positions.

“I think every player has the right to feel safe,” Kiss told reporters.

“If you pass the ball and two seconds later you’re getting hit, I think you should be protected and that’s the main focus.

“We don’t want the TMO coming in at every moment, but if it’s something as late as that, that has to be looked at properly and that’s where you ask the TMO to get involved with.

“If that’s becoming a trend we’ve got to stamp on straight away because what you permit, you promote. Good young players, whatever club they’re in, have to be protected.

“I’m not talking about putting them in cotton wool, we know that Tom, Harry, James [O’Connor] and Lawso [Lawson Creighton], they’re tough players, but they don’t deserve anything that’s late and can create a whiplash moment that could hurt you.”

Nor is it the first time that Finau has targeted a young Australian fly-half.

A week earlier against the Brumbies, Finau smashed Noah Lolesio in a similar late shot in the 41st minute.

At the time, referee James Doleman described it as “timing was good, already committed”.

Kiss said that Lynagh was fit to take on the Rebels on Friday in Brisbane, but added that he didn’t have the conditioning behind him after an injury-plagued offseason to back-up time and time again.

“Because they’re young, we make sure we cycle it,” Kiss said.

“Tom, I think he had 20 minutes before I played him in the first game, so he didn’t have a full season. He’s not ‘fully fit’ in terms of his aerobic ability, so we’re managing that. He did cop a couple of hits but he’ll be fine.”

Harry McLaughlin-Phillips is firming for a debut start against the Rebels after impressing against the Chiefs. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

While Kiss said the Reds would settle on their side on Tuesday night, it’s believed McLaughlin-Phillips, who impressed many during the off-season, including in the fixtures against Robbie Deans’ Wild Knights, and came up with the match defining play last week, is firming for a start against the physical Rebels pack.

Should that be the case, Kiss said he was confident in McLaughlin-Phillips’ ability.

“Harry’s just got a great way about him. Nothing flusters him,” he said.

“He just does the job in front of him and does it well.

“He’s also very good at having pressure and running the ball himself, retain the ball and getting it back. He’s comfortable under those pressure moments.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.