Cheika: Fijians back-stabbed Wallabies with Hodge citing

TOKYO -- Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has taken aim at Fiji over their citing referral of Reece Hodge which could yet see the winger rubbed out of Australia's crunch Rugby World Cup clash with Wales on Sunday.

The Wallabies received news of Hodge's citing on Sunday afternoon, roughly 24 hours after they had come through a bruising 39-21 victory over the Fijians under the Sapporo Dome.

Hodge's tackle on Peceli Yato -- which saw the back-rower ruled out of the contest through rugby's HIA policy -- had been the subject of significant social media discussion up until that point despite it being cleared on the field at the time.

Cheika said he had on Saturday received no indication the Fijian team management was likely to later refer the incident to the officials, an act he described as not in the "spirit of the game".

"Probably the most disappointing thing was the Fijians," Cheika said Monday morning. "I think after the game we had a lot of friendly discussion with myself and the coach [John McKee]; he talked to our other coaches, there was no mention of anything.

"And then to get a referral from them in the way it was referred, especially, that was really disappointing, I don't find that ... in the spirit of the game at all, which is something you know from Fiji. So the coaching staff, I was really quite surprised with the way they brought their own referral post-match.

"That would've been a little disappointing from a spirit of rugby point of view. I prefer they come up to me and get upset with me if they were really upset about it; not to then talk to me in that nice sort of friendly chitty-chat way and go behind your back then put in a referral. I don't think I've ever referred anyone over a time."

Hodge's hearing was on Monday finalised for Wednesday afternoon [AEST], which leaves the Australians with roughly 36 hours to find a replacement option if he is indeed suspended.

Dane Haylett-Petty and Adam Ashley-Cooper would most likely to replace Hodge is he is suspended, which will be a tricky decision for independent judicial panellists Nigel Hampton, QC (New Zealand), former Scotland coach Frank Hadden and former referee José Luis Rolandi of Argentina.

Some camera angles appear to show Hodge wrapping both of his arms in the tackle on Yato, but the fact his shoulder still made contact with the Fijian's head suggests the Australian may have some trouble defending his case.

The tackle had been dealt with by referee Ben O'Keeffe and his fellow officials at the time of the incident - the 26th minute - with play continuing after they had agreed Hodge hadn't been guilty of foul play.

The fact a citing had come after the on-field referees and Television Match Offical had made their decision also angered Cheika.

"I [am] a little disappointed because we went to the meeting last Tuesday, they called all the coaches up into Tokyo for a meeting with the referees boss and the citing commissioners boss Steve Hinds, then with the judiciary committee boss, and they explained to us the way things would work, which all sounded really good, to be honest," the Wallabies coach said. "I think they're looking to have a bit more empathy for the game, footballing situations.

"Why I say disappointing is the fact is, Steve Hinds mentioned that if a team of four (referees) had dealt with it on the day that it would have to be clear and obvious for it to get cited.

"So they're working together as a team, they were talking about calibration, I think was their buzz word, and I think it was pretty clear that all the officials dealt with it on the day. And I think if you've seen from the conjecture around and the majority of footballers, rugby players from the past who have said it's not an illegal tackle, that it's not clear and obvious even in that point of view, so I was surprised that it was cited.

"Like I said after the game, I personally didn't even notice it; I didn't even see it in the game. I thought Hodgey was lucky to get up; he got slammed."