The Rugby World Cup in Japan could be spoiled thanks to the "quick" crackdown on shoulder charges and high tackles, says Australia's director of rugby Scott Johnson.

High tackles and player safety have been hot topics leading up to this weekend's Bledisloe Cup II clash after All Blacks lock Scott Barrett was sent off and banned for three weeks for a dangerous shoulder charge on Wallabies captain Michael Hooper.

Speaking on Fox Sports Australia's Fox Rugby Podcast, Johnson said the major changes to World Rugby's laws, highlighted in the All Blacks' 47-26 loss to the Wallabies, was concerning.

"There's general concern because there's a major change, a seismic shift really in the way the game's played and certainly the height at which the game's expected to be played at," said Johnson, who is also a Wallabies selector.


"It is difficult for very big men to get that low but I understand the reasoning.

"It's about safety, I have a personal view of it, I think we've probably moved a little quick for the tournament.

"I watched the under-20s (World Championship in Argentina) this year (where the cards flowed freely) and the implication of a red card is quite dramatic in a game."

Scott Barrett of the All Blacks is sent off by referee Jerome Garces. Photo / Photosport
Scott Barrett of the All Blacks is sent off by referee Jerome Garces. Photo / Photosport

In May, World Rugby issued new guidelines on high tackles and shoulder charges to provide greater clarity around its attempt to improve player safety.

Johnson added that the rules are clear but he fears for the rugby "product".

"We understand the rules in which we're playing," Johnson told the Fox Rugby Podcast.

"We can only determine our own fate and we have to make sure we play within those laws.

"It's for us as administrators to argue appropriately, in different forums, for what we think is the best interests of the game, moving forward.


"Because at the end of the day we are in show business and we want to make sure that what we put out on show is a product worth watching.

"That's what's important to us."