Australia v New Zealand, Tri-Nations, August 22
Cheating claims return for McCaw
August 20, 2009
New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw is congratulated after scoring his side's opening try, New Zealand v Australia, Tri-Nations, Eden Park, Auckland, July 18, 2009
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw also crossed for a try in his side's most recent victory over the Wallabies © Getty Images

New Zealand have once again been forced to defend their captain Richie McCaw against claims he is a cheat ahead of their Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup showdown with Australia.

The Sydney-based Daily Telegraph has published six photos from television footage of the All Blacks' 22-16 win over the Wallabies in Auckland, which they claim confirm the player is "a serial offender with a shopping list of illegal plays".

The paper claimed the "damning" footage showed McCaw entering the ruck from the side seven times, and contesting kicks while offside on three occasions, none of which were penalised by referee Craig Joubert. McCaw was penalised for two unrelated ruck offences.

All Blacks scrum-half Jimmy Cowan defended his skipper against cheating claims but offered a touch of sympathy for the Wallabies.

"I wouldn't think so. He probably got hard done by in that last test match, the referees probably look to that as cheating," Cowan said. "I don't see it that way -- maybe if I was playing for Southland and he was playing for Canterbury I'd be in a different boat -- but when he's playing in the same team I don't see too much of it. That's what makes him a quality player, you've got to push the boundaries."

Former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer, never shy about some All Blacks-bashing, called on home coach Robbie Deans - who didn't want to discuss it publicly - to raise McCaw's approach with top South African referee Jonathan Kaplan.

"Richie is a very good player but he does get away with a fair bit," Dwyer told the Telegraph. "He tries to make it look as though he's come through the gate but he hasn't really. The entry point for his hands and arms is often from the side, and then he swings his bum around. And that's on opposition ball.

"On his own team's ball, he comes in from the side heaps of times. Straight in from the side. The refs tend not to referee the team with the ball as much as the team without it."

But another former Wallabies coach, Eddie Jones, had no concerns about McCaw. "He's an outstanding flanker who plays the laws to the edge like George Smith, Schalk Burger, Phil Waugh, Heinrich Brussow," Jones said.

Discipline will be a key factor on Saturday night with penalty kicks dominating the All Blacks' and Wallabies' recent defeats to the Springboks. According to statistics in The Australian, the Wallabies conceded 26 penalties in their two Tri-Nations defeats, and the All Blacks 34 in three Tests. Runaway Tri-Nations leaders the Springboks conceded just 20 penalties in their three wins.

Cowan said the All Blacks were comfortable with Kaplan. "Definitely, he's a quality referee. He's been around for a while and got a few test matches under his belt. He gets it right most of the time."


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