Tall Order: Wallabies at last heed World Cup's tackle message

TOKYO -- Towering Wallabies lock Rory Arnold is mindful of the need to lower his tackling height at the Rugby World Cup, while coach Michael Cheika says his side have been working on a few different things to avoid further potentially match-turning yellow or red cards.

The Wallabies lost two players to the sin-bin against Uruguay last Saturday, meaning they played with 14 men for 20 minutes. Adam Coleman and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto were both shown yellow for tackles that slipped up above the shoulder, while Kurtley Beale was lucky to avoid the same sanction.

Those incidents came after skipper Michael Hooper had been penalised for a late tackle against Wales a week earlier, while centre Samu Kerevi was pinged for a raised forearm when carrying the ball in the same game.

The crackdown on dangerous tackles in Japan began with Reece Hodge's citing following Australia's victory over Fiji on the opening weekend, an incident that later saw Cheika launch a staunch defence of his side's "tackle middle" technique.

But after last weekend's incidents against Uruguay, on the back of what transpired in the loss to Wales, Cheika admitted his side did needed to re-evaluate its defensive approach, first for their final pool match against Georgia and then, if all goes to plan, through the knockout stage.

"Yeah, we're addressing that. We've got some ideas around how we can be better at that. And no matter how you see the penalties, the pictures are real," Cheika said Tuesday while announcing his team to play Georgia.

"You've got to do something because whether it's truth or perception, we're getting the [referee's] arm raised against us and we're losing players to the bin for things that we shouldn't be. So we've got to improve our tackle, I suppose the tackle area as a whole, just get a bit better there.

"We've worked on some things, I'm not going to really go into them in detail here, but we've worked on a few things that we want to try in this game and see if they work for us. That will give us a better defensive line and better height in the tackle.

"Like I said in my last presser; our defence, we've had an intercept; we've had tries scored, really only one has come from a missed tackle; an intercept, a dropped ball gone the distance, a cross-kick, and then that pick-and-drive on the weekend.

"So we've only had one, against Fiji, where we've missed tackles and it's gone to the try. But I think we can still be better in that area, both in the way we're defending and also in the tackle height itself - it's a reality [and] we've got to deal with it."

Following the twin yellow cards the Australians received against Uruguay, Argentina lock Tomas Lavinini was later Saturday sent-off against England after his shoulder made direct contact with the head of Owen Farrell.

The common link with all three incidents was that each player stands at least 198cm tall, meaning they must lower their body height significantly to make a legal tackle.

And that fact hasn't been lost on outstanding Wallabies lock Arnold, who himself stands at a whopping 208cm.

"Yeah I guess it is mainly all those taller boys that are getting pinged for those higher shots," Arnold said Tuesday. "So as lock and taller men we just have to focus on getting our shots down because at the end of the day the rule is, no contact with the head, it's player safety... safety is the most important thing; it's up to us to get our tackles down and keep working on that."

A genuinely physical player, Arnold doesn't want to lose that aggressive edge that can help deliver a hit that jolts a ball free or leads to a turnover, which in turn can create opportunities for Australia to attack.

But understanding how difficult it can be to defend a team like England, who Australia will likely meet in the quarterfinals next week, with only 14 men, Arnold says it's about finding a happy medium where he can be physically dominant but doesn't cross the line into dangerous tackle territory.

"I've been working on it; it is a point of my game that you have to sort of think about a bit," Arnold said of his defensive approach. "Over the last few weeks there [are a] lot of cards being thrown out there and it puts a lot of pressure on your side.

"So in big games, I guess any games, I'm just thinking about getting that body height down and being disciplined in that area because, like I said, it puts a lot of pressure on the team. And like we did last weekend, it really wasn't perfect to [be] playing with 14 blokes for a while there. So for me, I guess it's about working on those things at training and bringing them into the game.

"It's hard a question because you can overthink it as well and then stop playing your natural game. At the end of the day I want to play aggressive and that's the way I play. But at the end of the day I'll be thinking about that as well, in the back of my mind, get low, don't give any silly penalties away and then hopefully that will take care of itself."