Reds coach Ewen McKenzie says there needs to be consistency in officiating at the breakdown and that referees should ‘reward a spirit of adventure’.
Referees have been instructed by the IRB to clamp down on infringements at the breakdown and have clearly been vigilant in this regard. However, the first two rounds of the tournament have seen a wide range of interpretations, leading to much confusion and frustration from coaches and players.
McKenzie believes consistency will prevail but stressed that the attacking team must be protected in the interests of the game. ‘In the end the game has to reward the spirit of adventure,’ he said.
‘That’s the concern at the moment until they [the referees] get the balance at the breakdown right. If you don’t have the confidence to play, you’re just going to kick and try to play in front of the goalposts. And if you have a good goal kicker you can make the opposition pay.
‘We showed against the Force that we can play it either way. We’ll play the way we have to, depending on the trends of the game. We had to change mid-game against the Force, and got the result.’
Meanwhile, McKenzie received encouraging news on the progress of Berrick Barnes and Pat McCutcheon, who missed the first two weeks of the Super Rugby season. The duo had an assessment with Waratahs team doctor Sharron Flahive on Monday and are expected to be fit for selection for Saturday’s match against the Highlanders.