Cheika: He didn't grab him by the hair!
REACTION: Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika was convinced that Israel Folau did not grab Dillyn Leyds by the hair in their 27-all draw with the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
It was a controversial incident in the game and an annoyed Cheika came to the defence of his star player even though video footage shows that Folau did have some of Leyd's hair in his grip.
The Springboks were awarded a penalty for the incident, but Folau did not receive further punishment in terms of a card.
"He [Folau] grabbed the guy [Leyds] around the collar. He gets penalised ok because that is a high tackle, but then the other guy [Eben Etzebeth] comes in and charges. He doesn't get him with the elbow, but he was angling that way, but nothing was said about it.
"If it [Etzebeth connects with the elbow] does, what happens then. I just don't get it."
One brave reporter challenged Cheika about the incident, but the Wallabies coach was having none of it.
"You got to watch the vision, he got him by the collar," Cheika responded. "When you've watched the vision, he didn't come in and grab him by the hair!"
Cheika added: "Have you played rugby mate? Have you ever tackled anyone by the hair? Who tackles someone by the hair? So, forget about, it is a non-issue."
However, Leyds did not agree with Cheika's version of the events.
"It was 100 percent the hair," said Leyds after the game. "He actually pulled me by the hair twice. He had one go at it and then he got his left hand on and then he pulled my hair again.
"I don't know what their [Australia's] version of the story is, but he 100 percent pulled me by the hair."
When asked if he had lost any hair in the incident, Leyds candidly responded: "Luckily not, but I am sure there are few places in Cape Town that I can go to and check that out."
By Warren Fortune, in Bloemfontein