Hoeata's facial: it's the way he plays - Ellis
Andy Ellis doesn't begrudge Jarrad Hoeata for mauling him with an over-vigorous "facial".
Highlanders flanker Hoeata, remaining true to his reputation as one of New Zealand rugby's less savoury characters, was yellow carded on Saturday night after he attempted to shift Ellis' features to the back of his head with a nasty face-rub.
And Hoeata's deed set the tone for the evening.
Later in the match referee Steve Walsh had no hesitation in sending off Ma'a Nonu for a spear tackle on Tom Marshall and also yellow carded Corey Flynn for a high shot on Fumiaki Tanaka.
But Crusaders halfback Ellis laughed-off the Hoeata incident and also dismissed speculation he was gouged, believing there was no malice in Hoeata's actions.
"'I've known Jarrad for years now, since he played club rugby in Christchurch - it's just the way he plays," Ellis said.
"There's stuff like that going on all the time in the bottom of a ruck where someone is giving you one in the chops - it's just nice that the 'touchie' actually saw it.
"He (Hoeata) was just working me overtime, trying to get me off the ball."
Earlier in his career Hoeata, 30, played for HSOB in the Christchurch metro competition.
When the two sides met at AMI Stadium on April 20 Hoeata was also involved in several scuffles and copped an Owen Franks punch that resulted in the Crusaders prop being yellow carded.
Having received three yellow cards this season means Hoeata must now appear before Sanzar judicial officer Jannie Lubbe SC.
Nonu, who also received an off-field yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Dan Carter, will have his case considered by Lubbe.
Not surprisingly Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder was unhappy with Nonu's tip-tackle on Marshall and the late charge on Carter, no doubt anxious not to lose two of his form backs so close to the play-offs.
But Highlanders boss Jamie Joseph intimated that Walsh had a habit of targeting Nonu.
"He (Walsh) didn't muck around did he? He mucked around two or three times to check things out but with that one he was pretty determined.
"He tends to always sent Ma'a off, Steve Walsh, it would be nice to know how many times he has done it."