Kirwan seeks clarification over harsh TMO call

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 14:27 25/02/2013
Frank Halai
Photosport

Frank Halai (left) knocks the ball dead before Julian Savea can lay a hand on it. A play that led to a controversial penalty try and sin-binning for Halai.

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Blues' coach Sir John Kirwan is seeking clarification from the Super Rugby refereeing department about the controversial penalty try that marred his team's outstanding opening round win over the Hurricanes.

The Blues copped a penalty try and had Frank Halai sin-binned after the big wing was ruled to have deliberately knocked the ball dead in-goal in a desperate dive against his flying opposite Julian Savea.

Match referee Glen Jackson carried out the ruling of TMO Vinny Munro for the 54th minute incident that put the Hurricanes in front 20-16. 

The Blues held their composure to see out a 34-20 upset.

Kirwan was still confused about the ruling today. He described it as "harsh" because he didn't believe there was certainty that Savea would have scored despite Halai's desperate actions. Kirwan had a call in to Sanzar referee boss Lyndon Bray.

"That's just to get a better understanding," Kirwan said of seeking an explanation.

"The letter of the law is, yeah, that's the rule. Could you say it was going to be a try? My opinion would be, no. Their opinion would be, yes. At the end of the day I thought it was a harsh call."

Kirwan said he would also take the opportunity to double check some other areas with Bray

"Nothing major, just to make sure we are training the boys the right way and we're aware of the trends that the refs are looking at."

It's the sort of attention to detail from Kirwan that is under-pinning the promising early signs of his time in charge of the Blues as they look to rebuild.

Certainly, there appears to be no complacency in the camp as they get set to host the seven-times champion Crusaders at Eden Park on Friday night.

Asked how the wash-up to the first-up win had gone, he replied matter-of-factly: "We have achieved nothing ... excited, happy although let's just make sure we get it right this week."

He believed his team was capable of improving "everything" and would probably need to do that to claim the scalp of the Crusaders.

The Achilles niggle to big No 8 Peter Saili remained the Blues' only injury concern.

Kirwan revealed his All Blacks lock Anthony Boric had come through a hit-out last Friday without any complications to the neck injured that ruined his 2012 season.

Boric was likely to be involved in the Blues development team's match with their Crusaders opposites this weekend.

"That was a big relief (for Boric) to come through. He's one step closer but he's probably a couple of games away. We will monitor him after Saturday."

Kirwan is hoping for a bumper crowd at Eden Park. He wants the ground to be "a fortress". He realises "that won't happen in a week" but believed fans would be buoyed by the "courage and commitment" the Blues had shown in Wellington.

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- Fairfax Media

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