Michael Cheika is confident officials won’t want to make an example of Wallabies winger Reece Hodge at his judicial hearing, although Wales coach Warren Gatland has playfully hinted he disagrees.
Hodge’s case will be heard tomorrow afternoon and Cheika believes a case can be mounted to ensure the winger is free to play in Sunday’s key Rugby World Cup pool game against the Welsh.
“Mate, I’m not planning for failure,” Cheika said.
“I’ll plan to succeed there and then we’ll work it out from there.”
Gatland, renowned for entering verbal jousts before Tests, carefully suggested Hodge may be up against it following his tackle on Peceli Yato during Australia’s win over Fiji on Saturday.
“It looks like he has made contact there to me,” Gatland told journalists.
“That’s not my decision, the judiciary needs to make the call on that.”
Hodge’s citing for a dangerous tackle has sparked widespread debate and his fate will attract global interest.
Those that believe a red card should have been issued now feel a ban is warranted for Hodge, whose tackle didn’t appear to involve Hodge’s arms and concussed Yato.
However, there is a contrasting view espoused by Cheika that the nature of the tackle is hard to determine and isn’t a “clear and obvious” red card offence, which is something that can now be challenged at the judiciary.
The division lines are just stark on what scope should be given to citing and judicial officials and whether a “feel for the game” should form part of any ruling.
Cheika wasn’t biting on suggestions the judiciary would hand down an overblown punishment to act as a deterrent for the remainder of the tournament.
A meeting with the referee and judicial bosses last week convinced him that won’t be the case.
“They talked a lot about understanding the empathy of the game as opposed to coming over with a big stick. That was their natural approach,” Cheika said.
The Wallabies have depth to cover Hodge’s absence although that doesn’t include uncapped outside centre Jordan Petaia, who is still recovering from the hamstring injury suffered four weeks ago in Noumea.
“Like everything on this trip, since the typhoon knocked us out trying to get here the first day, all the little obstacles that get in our way,” Cheika said.
“We’ll just deal with them and take things on the run and still look forward to the game that’s coming up this weekend.”