The Post

Whitelock ‘street-smart’


Former Springboks coach Nick Mallett has provided a neutral perspectiv­e on Sam Whitelock’s act of gamesmansh­ip against TJ Perenara to ensure the Crusaders made the Super Rugby final.

Perenara and the Hurricanes were justifiabl­y crying foul as they exited the Christchur­ch semifinal 30-26 after Whitelock knocked the ball from Perenara’s hands at a last-minute ruck, an infringeme­nt that went unsighted by Australian referee Nic Berry.

He instead judged Perenara to have knocked on and from the ensuing scrum the Crusaders kicked the ball into touch and marched on to Saturday’s final against the Jaguares.

Mallett felt the vastly experience­d Whitelock was ‘‘streetsmar­t’’ and the product of good coaching with his act of desperatio­n. A penalty wouldn’t have allowed the Hurricanes to have kicked a goal to win but they could have set up one final drive at the Crusaders line through a lineout or scrum.

‘‘A ruck is formed and as TJ Perenara’s picks up the ball, one of Sam Whitelock’s hands goes in there and just knocks the ball out of Perenara’s hands as he’s about to pick it up. It’s an instantane­ous, and very clever, thing to do,’’ Mallett said in his analysis role for South African TV.

‘‘I also thought that sort of action is down to brilliant coaching. It’s just being streetsmar­t in a vital period of the game because the momentum was 100 per cent with the Hurricanes in those last four minutes. You had that feeling that they were going to get over the line.

‘‘What Whitelock did was up to the referee to spot because the TMO (television match official) can only come in for an act of foul play and that doesn’t justify itself as foul play.

‘‘So it was just something that was missed by the referee and I imagine that the Crusaders are delighted that he did.’’

A frustrated Perenara had to take the unseen foul on the chin.

‘‘I guess it was pretty clear and obvious. We all probably know, we have seen it,’’ Perenara said after the gutting loss. ‘‘We know it’s a penalty. The ref can’t see everything. He makes a call, and calls it a knock on.

‘‘Sometimes we expect a penalty, there, for a deliberate knock down; but it is what it is in a game of footy.’’

Hurricanes coach John Plumtree agreed with Perenara though masked his frustratio­n, telling media they ‘‘might want to have a look’’ at that last ruck.

He said it was ‘‘too late’’ to do anything about it.

Meanwhile, South Africa has to digest another Super Rugby final without their participat­ion.

They see the Crusaders as being vulnerable to a rapidly improving Jaguares side.

‘‘The Crusaders did what they have done on a few more occasions in 2019 than they did in the previous two seasons – they showed signs of being mortal,’’ veteran South African rugby scribe Gavin Rich wrote for SuperSport as he reviewed the semifinals and looked at the title match.

‘‘Perhaps we should not read too much into their poor second half against the Hurricanes, for they gave the impression that they thought they had the game won with their impressive first half and then fell into the trap of releasing pressure, something you can’t afford to do against the Hurricanes. But nonetheles­s they did not look invincible.

‘‘The Jaguares have won three of their last four games on Kiwi soil, and seven of their last eight in Australasi­a. Indeed, they have a much better record that side of the world than they do in South Africa.

‘‘The Jaguares have the resources, the confidence and the form to ensure that the Crusaders are pushed more than the New Zealand teams have tended to be when challenged in a play-off game by teams from other continents.’’

 ??  ?? Rival captains Sam Whitelock and Dane Coles shake hands at the end of a pulsating Super Rugby semifinal.
Rival captains Sam Whitelock and Dane Coles shake hands at the end of a pulsating Super Rugby semifinal.

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