George Moala has been suspended for one week for his dangerous high tackle on Highlanders wing Buxton Popoali’i during the Blues’ 29-18 victory at Eden Park on Friday night.
Moala was yellow carded for the incident in the 45th minute and did not return to the field as Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan considered he was very shaken.
Duty Judicial Officer (DJO) Nicholas Davidson QC considered there was no intentional foul play and that all indications were of an orthodox tackle until Popoali’i reached forward and dropped his body position that lead to contact above the shoulders and with considerable force.
Concussion was reported by the medical officer and the effects are not yet certain.
Considerable remorse and reflection were shown by Moala directly to Popoali’i after the match and at the teleconference.
The DJO records that the tackler has the responsibility to make the tackle cleanly and cannot assume the ball carrier, here catcher, will take or carry the ball as coached.
The DJO also expressed real concern at the incidents involving the head and neck region this season and while different in kind the message must now be patently clear that the dangers in high contact must now reflect in deterrent sanctions.
Taranaki wing Waisake Naholo looms as the most likely replacement ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Hurricanes at Eden Park (kick-off 7.35pm).