Horwill cleared, injuries persist for Wallabies

Last updated 12:20 24/06/2013
James Horwill
Getty Images
SERIAL STAMPER: James Horwill's first test incident was not the first time the Wallabies captain has been called out for stamping.

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James Horwill has been cleared to play in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions after the citing commissioner dismissed a charge of stamping against the Wallabies captain.

Lions second rower Alun-Wyn Jones received stitches above his eye after being struck in the face by Horwill's boot in the third minute of the Wallabies' 23-21 loss to the Lions in Brisbane on Saturday night.

The Australian Rugby Union successfully argued during a three-and-a-half hour hearing in Melbourne on Sunday night that Horwill was "spun off balance" by Lions players entering the ruck from the other side as he was driving forward with his right foot raised.

Judicial officer Nigel Hampton QC found that on the balance of probabilities the action was not deliberate or intentional.

"After hearing all the evidence I could not find that when James Horwill's right foot came into glancing contact with Alun Wyn Jones' face, that he Horwill was acting recklessly," Hampton said.

"I found that I could not reject as being implausible or improbable Horwill's explanation that as he was driving forward with his right leg raised he was spun off balance through the impact of Lions players entering the ruck from the opposite side.

"In an endeavour to regain his balance Horwill brought his right leg to the ground unknowing that Alun Wyn Jones' head was in that area, due to having his sight impeded by the presence of Michael Hooper and Tom Croft who were beneath him and over the top of Alun Wyn Jones.

"Due to these reasons I cannot uphold the citing."

The decision will come as a huge relief to the Wallabies, who on Sunday called up three replacements to cover unprecedented injuries in their back line.

It is also likely to raise the ire of the tourists. Lions coach Warren Gatland on Sunday said "the head was sacrosanct" and the side felt they had no choice by to refer the incident.

Veteran flanker George Smith, centre Ben Tapuai and fullback Jesse Mogg were called into the squad in Melbourne.

Adam Ashley-Cooper, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Berrick Barnes and Christian Lealiifano are all in doubt for the match in Melbourne on Saturday.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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