Sharks coach Dick Muir has risked a second weekend of referee wrath with an amazing declaration that Kiwi official Steve Walsh robbed his side of the Super 14 title last year.
Walsh, who is in charge of Saturday night’s clash between the Waratahs the touring South Africans, refereed the 2007 Super 14 final between the Sharks and the Bulls, which the Bulls won 20-19.
The Daily telegraph reports that the match was mired in controversy after Walsh elected to not send off Bulls winger Bryan Habana for a dangerous mid-air tackle on Percy Montgomery.
Habana, who later admitted he was lucky to stay on the field, went on to score an 82nd-minute match-winning try.
Muir refused to blame Walsh in the final’s aftermath.
But when asked by The Daily Telegraph yesterday if the Sharks had played under the Kiwi since, the coach replied: “No, the last time we had him (Walsh) was when he cost us the Super 14 final.”
The dramatic statement is sure to add spice to Saturday’s showdown between the second-placed Sharks and third-placed Waratahs.
In a match laced with refereeing drama the Durban side lost their first game last weekend against the Brumbies after two players were sin-binned by agitated Kiwi whistleblower Bryce Lawrence.
Lawrence was tough on the tourists at the breakdown and repeatedly warned the Sharks about backchat as they grew frustrated.
Muir said he’d spoken with his side about not getting on the wrong side of Walsh, who is also known as a headstrong referee.
“They (Walsh and Lawrence) are very similar in that area,” Muir said.
“We had previously warned our guys Lawrence is one of those referees that gets his back up if you talk back to him . . . so it was a lack of leadership and a lack of experience on our part.
“Knowing Steve Walsh is playing we have to be conscious not to do it again.
“It is just a matter of not questioning any bad decisions, but getting back to where you are going.”
Sharks centre Brad Garritt is expected to miss the game, with Muir saying Francois Steyn or Adam Jacobs would come in to the No. 12 jersey.
The Waratahs named an unchanged line-up.Tweet