Super Rugby: Moody, Franks bans at odds with player safety focus

Aside from the All Blacks squad, the other big talking point in New Zealand rugby at the moment is the issues surrounding suspended Crusaders props Joe Moody and Owen Franks.

Both of their incidents were complete shockers but even worse was the fact they both got away with them on the field of play. And, in Moody's case, the action was amplified by his scoring a try in the same movement.

You would have to say that given all the talk of safety in the game and how it was going to be policed, a two-week ban for each blatant act, both of which were not detected by the referees, is hardly serving player welfare.

The situation falls straight back on the referees. Glen Jackson claimed Franks' action was too far removed from the play by the time it was detected. That seems an unbalanced assessment. The Blues lost their preferred hooker for the rest of the game, while no punishment was made against the Crusaders on the field.

If safety was paramount, why was Franks not given at least a yellow card and a penalty awarded to the Blues back on halfway once their try had been converted?

Both Moody and Franks are physical players, that's the nature of the position they play and what is expected from them. But their actions were reckless and should have been dealt with on the field.

And you have to ask in that situation: what does a coach do? You can prepare your team for all manner of events on the field but when such acts undermine the policy of safety you are helpless to act. A sanction once the game is over does nothing to affect the result which an on-field call may well have done.

Another aspect of the weekend was the end, finally, of New Zealand's streak against Australian teams. We're great in New Zealand at taking the mickey out of the Australian sides but we should acknowledge the abilities the Australian franchises have.

The Waratahs team that finally dealt with the record is a damn good team. They should have beaten the Crusaders a week earlier when they allowed their comeback. But against the Highlanders, even if the Kiwis were a man down for most of the game, they were in no mood to let the chance slip. They put together some great moves and played some fine rugby to win 41-12.

With the core of the Wallabies in the Waratahs side, you would never really write them off. Just as you wouldn't ever write off the Wallabies. Add to that a Reds team that came back from their Sunwolves hiding to push the Hurricanes all the way.

The end of the streak will be a welcome relief in Australia and can be a big boost for their Test rugby later in the season.