The Kangaroos have been slammed for their post-match sulk and a whinge about a “stitch-up” by match officials after the Kiwis’ upset World Cup rugby league final victory.
The conduct of coach Ricky Stuart’s team was under the microscope in the Australian media today after most of the team, including the main protagonists Billy Slater and Joel Monaghan, refused to be interviewed after the Kiwis’ shock 34-20 win in Brisbane.
An upset Slater, just days after accepting the plaudits for international player of the year, was asked to discuss the match, including his wild infield pass which handed Kiwis five-eighth Benji Marshall a crucial late try.
“But instead of fronting up to the media and, in turn, league fans, (Slater) snuck out with nothing more than a sneer for those who had waited patiently for him to finish his post-game ritual,” Dan Koch wrote in The Australian newspaper.
“It was an arrogant and indignant display from a bloke once regarded as one of the more affable characters around, but who, in recent seasons, has earned a reputation as one of the game’s more abrasive players.”
Slater’s howler was rated just outside the Daily Telegraph newspaper’s top-five sporting blunders, which included Wallaby David Campese’s stray pass to hand the British Lions a matchwinning rugby try in 1989, and South African Herschelle Gibbs’ dropped catch off Australia’s Steve Waugh at the 1999 cricket World Cup.
BBC television commentator Ray French, a former England league and rugby international, labelled the Kangaroos “sooks”.
“I’ve never heard such a load of mumbo-jumbo. If you get beat, you face up to it, get dressed and go home. Life goes on,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported widespread dissatisfaction among the Kangaroos about the performance of English-based Australian referee Ashley Klein and video ref Steve Ganson (England).
Stuart reportedly fronted Australian Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr afterwards, alleging a conspiracy by tournament organisers.
“Witnesses say Stuart was out of line in his attack, blaming match officials and accusing them of stitching up his team to such an extent that defeat was virtually inevitable,” the paper said.
Stuart allegedly said the result suited organisers and the future of the World Cup which was written off as a one-horse race.
The Kangaroos were fuming at the Kiwis’ penalty try after Lance Hohaia was taken out by Monaghan, which had an element of doubt with Slater in close proximity to contest the ball; and in Jerome Ropati’s first half try after Marshall was deemed to have been stripped of the ball.
“It was terrible, to be honest. We knew we were going to have to play bad to get beaten, (and) we didn’t play our best game but we weren’t that bad,” lock Paul Gallen told Channel Nine.
“It was a bit of a stitch-up, I thought, in some decisions.”
The Telegraph also said Kangaroos captain Darren Lockyer’s man of the match award made the sport “a laughing stock”.
It reported the judges, former Kiwi Darrell Williams, Australia’s Bob McCarthy, England’s Brian Noble and Fiji’s James Pickering were told their decision had to be lodged 10 minutes before fulltime, then were refused permission to change it to an unnamed Kiwi player just before the final whistle.