Hodge in hot water: Fuming Fiji escalate tackle controversy

Sapporo: Australia winger Reece Hodge could be in hot water after Fiji referred his try-saving tackle on their star player to the citing commissioner.

Hodge made the covering tackle on No.7 Peceli Yato in the 26th minute of Australia's 39-21 win over the Flying Fijians at the Sapporo Dome on Saturday.

Post-collision: Reece Hodge and Peceli Yato both came off worse for wear, but Yato’s role in the game was over, concussed in the incident.Credit:AP

Yato had to leave the field for a head injury assessment and was not allowed to return to the field, instead relegated to watching from the sidelines as his teammates opened up a nine-point lead on the Wallabies before withering under Australia's tactical tweaks in the second half.

Different camera angles appeared to show Hodge hitting Yato high and with no attempt to wrap his right arm, dipping his shoulder to stop the Fijian flanker, who was hurtling downfield near top speed.



Fiji coach John McKee was diplomatic about the incident after the match but pointed out that losing Yato, who was ferocious in Fiji's opening 20 minutes, changed the game for them.

Behind the scenes things were less serene. Late on Saturday, team officials referred the tackle to the citing commissioner, of the belief Hodge had dipped his right shoulder and pulled off a cut-and-dried shoulder charge.

Fiji captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu said he asked referee Ben O'Keeffe to look at the incident on the field. O'Keeffe said he had referred it to the TMO, Waqaniburotu said.

"They [the referees] said they didn't see anything, so he said, 'We're referring it to the TMO' and we're waiting on that," he said.

The Wallabies could face a nervous wait if the citing commissioner finds O'Keeffe and Saturday's TMO missed something.

Australia play Wales in Tokyo on Sunday. If the citing commissioner finds the tackle met the red-card threshold, Hodge could face a suspension.

After the game Australia coach Michael Cheika raised his own concerns about the match officials' performances, claiming they were unreasonably focused on star Wallabies flanker David Pocock.

Pocock brushed off his coach's comments, saying “generally refs are doing a really good job”.

"As long as there's clear communication and consistency, as a player that's all you can ask for," he said.

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