Wallabies blindside flanker Scott Higginbotham has been cited for illegally targeting Richie McCaw's head, as victimisation of the All Black captain continues to the dismay of team management.
Higginbotham fronts a SANZAR judicial hearing tomorrow after being charged with kneeing McCaw in the head and then moments later headbutting him as a melee developed in the 26th minute of last night's 18-18 draw at Suncorp Stadium.
McCaw had been penalised for a ruck infringement by South African referee Craig Joubert in the third and final Bledisloe Cup test of the year when Higginbotham chose to dish out his own punishment.
Television footage showed the Queensland loose forward's knee making contact with McCaw's head and as the pair grappled Higginbotham pushes his forehead into the New Zealander's face - actions that were missed by Joubert and his touch judges.
However, shortly after the Wallabies ended the All Blacks winning streak one match short of the world record of 17 consecutive victories for a top-tier nation, Higginbotham learned he was facing two charges under Law 10.4a -- punching and striking.
His hearing will be held via conference call before South African Jannie Lubbe - the SANZAR judicial officer who exonerated Quade Cooper after the Wallabies playmaker was also accused of kneeing McCaw in the head when the teams last met at Brisbane for the Tri-Nations decider 14 months ago.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen expressed frustration that McCaw was again targeted by an alleged act of foul play and bemoaned his skipper's lack of protection from match officials.
"I saw the head-butt - it's another cheap shot," Hansen said.
"He seems to get them every week but everyone seems to miss them."
McCaw admitted he was annoyed at the time and expected the judicial process to take its course.
"It's on TV so it will get dealt with," he said.
"It does get frustrating at times and annoying but there's not much I can do about it."
The combative openside was also in the wars during the Rugby Championship test against the Springboks in Dunedin where prop Dean Greyling copped a two-week ban, effectively a one-test suspension, after he was found guilty of striking McCaw's head with an elbow as he flew into the collision zone.
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans claimed he had not seen the incident involving his former captain at the Crusaders, though not convincingly.
"Sorry I didn't see it," he smiled: "I was taking some notes at the time."
- Sunday Star Times
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