Super Rugby
Anger as board forces Folau to sit out match
ESPN Staff
April 12, 2014
Israel Folau dives over to score a try for the Waratahs, Waratahs v Reds, Super Rugby, Round Three, ANZ Stadium, March 1, 2014
Folau was left frustrated after the ARU withdrew him the Waratahs-Force clash © Getty Images

New South Wales Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has slammed the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) after Israel Folau was pulled out of Saturday's Super Rugby match against Western Force. Folau, who has missed the last fortnight with a throat problem, was picked for Saturday's match after club medical staff passed him fit. But late on Friday ARU chief medical officer Dr Warren McDonald ruled him out after getting specialist advice.

Cheika said the ARU had now twice broken their protocols with the Super Rugby franchises by seeking advice on Folau's condition without first going through Waratahs team doctor Sharron Flahive.

"The whole system is predicated on trust, there's certain jeopardy around that now," Cheika said. "We've got a very experienced doctor who has seen this injury before. We've put ourselves in the picture with lots of information. It's not black and white, it's not like having a broken leg. We've also considered the player and I think this is the biggest thing.

"We've been in contact with Israel every day. Last week we didn't feel he was ready so we didn't play him. This week he went through all the full contact training. He would have had more contact training on Tuesday than he would have in a game.

"We went through all the tests that were required and I can tell you that no one from the ARU medical staff has spoken to Israel at all, which you have to think is a bit of a pre-requisite.

"I had to deal with him last night giving me a gobful because he's not playing. I didn't put him out. He's a very smart guy. He understands what his body can do and where he's at. From what I've heard from him, he's very, very disappointed with the way it's gone down."

Asked if he thought the NSW Rugby Union would formally protest to the ARU about their handling of the situation, Cheika said: "I'd say that we just do it out of process ... I don't think it's going to make any difference."

McDonald said it was not yet in Folau's "best interests" to return to action. "This is a player welfare issue, which has been the focus of all the medical staff involved in this difficult decision, and we'll continue to work on the plan for Isreal's return as soon as possible."

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