‘Purely coincidental’: Chiefs coach defends bruiser after ANOTHER late shot leaves Tah flattened – but was it legal?


Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan says it’s “purely coincidental” that Semipeni Finau has put on a massive, late hit on a fourth fly-half in nine matches but admits his Test flanker is living on the edge.

Finau, 24, rushed out of the defensive line in the third minute and hammered Tane Edmed just as the Waratahs’ playmaker passed the ball during the Chiefs’ come-from-behind 38-22 win in Sydney on Friday night.

Edmed lay on the ground for 24 seconds as he attempted to compose himself after the shot from the one-Test All Black hit the No.10 just under shoulders.

???? C R U N C H ????#SuperRugbyPacific #WARvCHI pic.twitter.com/qNR75AebHC

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) April 26, 2024

Edmed went on to play 57 minutes while no action was taken against Finau.

But the question many have been left asking is how late is too late, particularly after Finau, the bruising back-rower, has flattened four playmakers in 2024 immediately after they pass the ball?

Three of Samipeni Finau’s hits this year. The latest on the weekend.

All three shots on the No.10s are late, but “timing is good” for two out of three. Apparently. pic.twitter.com/jxmWYWeQxI

— Christy Doran (@ChristypDoran) April 9, 2024

In addition, some have questioned whether Finau used enough of a wrap to complete a legal tackle.

“TMO James Leckie is one of the best in the business. Obviously, he had a big look at that,” former Wallaby Morgan Turinui said on Stan Sport.

“The arms aren’t tucked in the sling position, but they don’t seem to be in the motion of wrapping, which lots of TMOs would be looking at. That is right on the cusp.”

The incident left many on social media questioning the legality of the shot, particularly given Finau was once again the man dishing out the pain.

Ex-Wallabies inside back Matt To’omua said: “I hate to be unpopular. But I think they’re fine.”

Former Wallabies back-rower Stephen Hoiles said it was “One of the biggest hits” he has seen.

Initially I thought no arms & maybe late but on reflection after replay i think it was ok. One of the biggest hits I’ve seen live ????????

— steve hoiles (@stevehoiles) April 26, 2024

Only last month, former State of Origin winger turned Reds coach Les Kiss questioned whether enough was being done to protect the playmakers in the game, who are particularly vulnerable after performing a movement, after Tom Lynagh was hit extremely late by Finau in Brisbane. The incident was the only one of the four late shots that saw Finau penalised, with Brumbies star Noah Lolesio and Moana Pasifika’s William Havili also being hit late.

“I think every player has the right to feel safe,” Kiss said days after the shot on Lynagh.

“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.”

Tane Edmed was hammered by Samipeni Finau (L) during the Chiefs’ come-from-behind win over the Waratahs at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on April 26, 2024. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Waratahs coach Darren Coleman admitted the tackle didn’t “look good”.

“The protection of the passer, I think Les (Kiss) said something about this, the timing might have been right. Did he get a wrap? Is there a genuine arm wrap? I don’t know,” he said.

“They all looked at it, the TMO had a look at it and none of them had an issue. They’re the ones that adjudicate. I don’t have the expertise to go against them, but it hurt. It would have hurt poor Tane.

“He (Finau) has done a few of them this year.”

Captain Jake Gordon said he “wasn’t sure if he wrapped arms” but added that rugby was a “contact sport”.

“If you take it to the line, there is always that risk you are going to get hit,” Gordon said.

“It is a real hard one to police.

“Heat of the moment and you are a metre from a guy and you don’t know if he is going to dummy, you are taught to tackle the guy if he is going to take it to the line.”

McMillan thought the shot was “good”, as he applauded the Chiefs’ physicality during their impressive win.

The Chiefs denied it was a formulated plan for Finau to intimidate and take out the opposition playmaker.

“No, it’s just purely coincidental that it’s the same guy on the opposition with number 10’s on their back,” he said.

“We’ve spoken to him.

“We don’t want to stop any of our guys from getting off the line and getting a good shot on if they can do that within the laws of the game.

“I think you see multiple collisions in the game that border on being on the wrong side of the law, but that’s the game. It’s a physical game.”

Asked whether he was concerned a tackle could go wrong, the Chiefs coach said “yep, 100 per cent.”

“We’re talking about a difference about that much [10 centimeters],” he said.

“He’s got an acute awareness around the small margins and he could be off the field [if he gets it wrong]. He’s an important player for us, so he needs to get it right. I looked at that tackle multiple times and [it was] perfectly legal.”

McMillan added that it was a “fine line” but thought the “game’s never been safer in terms of the laws and awareness around contact around the head”.

“At the moment we’re talking about the tackle but there’s breakdowns and people are put in vulnerable positions and there were some massive collisions, that’s the brutal nature of the sport,” he said.

“Sometimes as coaches and players we wince at those collisions, but we’ve developed athletes who are physically and mentally [durable].”  

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