LONDON, September 28- World Cup chiefs handed Fiji star Nemani Nadolo a one-week ban on Monday for a dangerous tackle, ruling him out of a key clash against Wales on Thursday.
The ban against the 1.96 metre (6 feet 5 inch) giant further tarnished the Pacific islanders’ disciplinary record and was a huge loss for Fiji, with Nadolo having scored 16 of their 24 points so far at the tournament.
He was accused of carrying out a high tackle during Australia’s 28-13 win last Wednesday. Rugby World Cup said Nadolo, 27, had denied the offence.
A statement said judicial officer Chris Quinlan “was not satisfied” Nadolo had committed a spear tackle — where a player is lifted up and dropped head downwards.
But he was found guilty of the lesser charge of a dangerous tackle. Quinlan said he had reduced a two-week ban top one week because of “mitigating factors” including Nadolo’s “excellent disciplinary record”.
In two matches Fiji have now conceded 24 penalties and had three players yellow-carded, while Nadolo follows flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu in being suspended for a week. Waqaniburotu admitted to a dangerous tip tackle on England’s Jonny May.
Following losses to Australia and England, Fiji are desperate to salvage some pride against a Wales side buoyed by their stunning 28-25 victory over England inspired by a kicking masterclass from fly-half Dan Biggar.
Their woeful record has left the Fijians in no doubt they must get their discipline under control for the Pool A match against Wales or they will be punished by Biggar.
“Certainly their goal kicking is spot on, so we’re going to have to be careful to be well-disciplined in our own half,” coach John McKee admitted on Sunday.
Fiji, who knocked Wales out of the 2007 World Cup with a stunning 38-34 win in Nantes, were punished 66-0 by the Welsh when the teams met again four years later, and McKee said they were well aware of what to expect.
“Although we did well in parts of our first two matches, there are other parts of our game where we didn’t do so well. We’ve got to be more consistent over the 80 minutes.”
The disciplinary message has been drummed into the players.
“We can’t afford to give away penalties in our own half or even within the 10-metre line because he (Biggar) kicked so well last night,” said Fiji back Gabiriele Lovobalavu
“I play with Biggar at the Ospreys so I know how good a kicker he is,” added fly-half Josh Matavesi.
“We’re feeling pretty positive. At a World Cup you can’t let the occasion get to you. We can only play what’s in front of us.
“We’re two games down now and we’ve got two games to go, and we’re going to try and finish on a high.”