Blues flyer George Moala has been suspended for a week for the tackle that knocked out opposite number Buxton Popoali’i during the Blues’ 29-18 win over the Highlanders on Friday night. Popoali’i left the field on a stretcher with concussion.
This was the same game that Ma’a Nonu shoulder charged Piri Weepu in, and while Nonu escaped punishment after the match, Moala was cited and has since received a one-week ban.
He pleaded guilty to the charge and accepted the sanction handed down on him by SANZAR judicial officer Nicholas Davidson QC. Davidson’s view was that there was no intentional foul play, but when Popoali’i reached forward at the last minute it changed his body position, and Moala failed to adjust to that, leading to contact above the shoulders with force.
Moala, still just 22 years-old, was clearly shaken by what had happened and after spending 10 minutes in the sinbin, coach John Kirwan reportedly substituted him for precisely that reason.
Credit to scrum-half Aaron Smith, who recognised the situation instantly and helped his team mate out within seconds as he put him in the recovery position before the medics arrived.
Popoali’i had no neck or spinal injuries but will likely be out for a week after the concussion, and will be monitored daily by medical staff who will keep tabs on his recovery.