Douglas says he wasn't eye-gouged by Franks

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 07:13

REACTION: Australian lock Kane Douglas on Thursday dismissed claims All Blacks prop Owen Franks eye-gouged him during last weekend's fiery Bledisloe Cup clash in Wellington.

Douglas sought to play down the incident, which has revived accusations that disciplinary officials go easy on the All Blacks, most notably from Ireland great Brian O'Driscoll.

Douglas said he did not believe Franks' actions amounted to eye-gouging.

"I didn't think of it like that," he told Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper.

"It was an All Black trying to stop me driving through the maul, arms everywhere and everything happening in a few seconds.

"I've got no issue at all but obviously you want to be protecting the eyes of players."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika raised the allegation immediately after his side's 9-29 loss, pointing to video footage showing Franks' hand move across Douglas's face.

Cheika was angry French referee Romain Poite took no action, despite having a clear view of the incident.

But the Rugby Championship controlling body, SANZAAR, backed Poite, saying there would be no citings from the match.

Douglas said the footage made Franks' actions look worse than what it was.

"I probably didn't realise how bad it looked until after the game [when watching replays]," he said.

"My eyes were fine and it all happened so quickly I was on to the next thing in the game."

The fact that the allegations were not even deemed worthy of a hearing has sparked claims there is one law for the world champion All Blacks and another for everyone else.

"This is an absolute sham World Rugby???! Makes a mockery of citing. If nothing comes of this it's a farce," O'Driscoll tweeted after SANZAAR's decision.

O'Driscoll was on the wrong end of one of the most infamous tackles in rugby history when facing New Zealand during the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour.

Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu drove him into the turf 41 seconds into the first Test in Christchurch, dislocating his shoulder and ending his tour.

O'Driscoll said at the time "they could have broken my neck for all they seemed to care" but neither Umaga nor Mealamu were cited and the incident overshadowed the tour.

All Blacks fans took to Twitter after the Irishman's latest comments, accusing him of harbouring a grudge for 11 years.

"In fairness you guys are never guilty of foul play!" the 141-Test veteran fired back, joking: "My therapist thinks I'm doing great, thanks for asking."

O'Driscoll was not the only one to question Franks' treatment, with former Wallabies wing Cameron Shepherd saying the New Zealander should count himself lucky not to be facing a lengthy ban.

Shepherd likened Franks' actions to Argentine lock Mariano Galarza, who was suspended for nine weeks for making contact with the eye area of All Black Brodie Retallick's face in a match at last year's Rugby World Cup.

"I've watched both those bits of footage side by side... and Franks really should have been in a lot more trouble than this getting swept up like it didn't happen," he told ESPN.

He added: "You can't be putting your hands around somebody's eyes."

TVNZ said Douglas's opinion was the one that mattered most and praised the Australian for defending Franks over the allegations.

"Thanks, Kane Douglas, for the good sportsmanship - putting truth over rivalry," it said.

Agence France-Presse

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