Queensland diplomatic over Hooper reprieve

LAINE CLARK
Last updated 18:53 22/05/2012

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Rather than rail against Michael Hooper's judiciary reprieve, the Queensland Reds are looking forward to dishing out some on-field punishment to the Brumbies flanker in Saturday night's crunch Super Rugby clash.

Hooper is free to play despite his lifting tackle on the Hurricanes No.8 Victor Vito ensuring comparisons with the effort that earned Queensland winger Digby Ioane a five-week ban.

He was found guilty and issued an off-field yellow card for the tackle but SANZAR ruled the offence was at the low end of the scale.

The result came early on Tuesday morning after his hearing on Monday night via video link at the Brumbies Rugby Training Centre.

Ioane has not been able to hide his frustration over the inconsistencies in suspension for tip-tackles, particularly after NSW centre Rob Horne received a two-week ban in April for a tackle considered more dangerous on Melbourne Rebels fullback Kurtley Beale.

But Reds captain James Horwill took a different tack on Tuesday, saying his side looked forward to meeting Hooper in Canberra in a match that may yet decide Wallabies selections.

The Wallabies open their season with a one-off Test against Scotland in Newcastle on June 5 and play the first of three internationals against Wales just four days later in Brisbane.

"It will be good that we get to go down and play them at full strength," Horwill said of Hooper's reprieve.

Asked if Ioane should feel hardly done by, Horwill said diplomatically: "You have to look at each incident on their own merits. It's hard to compare incidents".

Brumbies coach Jake White is sure to start Hooper after paying the price for leaving the openside flanker on the bench as the Reds' Liam Gill and Beau Robinson dominated the breakdown battle in a 20-13 Good Friday win.

The Brumbies will be out for revenge in a match that can all but seal top spot in the Australian conference for them.

But Horwill backed Gill against Hooper with Wallabies selectors sure to be looking on.

"Gilly's form has been outstanding. His raw talent and ability is quite amazing," he said.

"He has grown this year with more opportunities.

"It (Saturday night's game) is a big opportunity for players to push their case.

"Interstate games have a heavy weighting (on Wallabies selection) because they are played with such intensity - it is more like Test rugby than other games."

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