Following a three-hour hearing on Monday night, Sean O'Brien has been cleared to play for the Lions in the tour's crescendo in Auckland on Saturday.
The Irishman had been cited for a swinging arm to Waisake Naholo's head in the second half of the second Test, but on the night that Sonny Bill Williams was banned for four weeks for his collision with Anthony Watson's head, O'Brien was cleared to play.
The reaction in the New Zealand media was one of general befuddlement, with many pieces accentuating the fact that the citing panel was entirely Australian. Here was the reaction from the NZ Herald:
Naholo had to go off for a concussion test and did not return to the field. The Citing Commissioner said the incident, in the 19th minute of the second half, was deemed to have met the threshold for a red card, therefore was worthy of a judicial hearing.
However, the hearing, which lasted nearly four hours, eventually cleared O'Brien, leaving the Irish flanker free to don the number seven jersey at Eden Park on Saturday.
How a red card offence did not lead to a suspension cut ice in New Zealand, and New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has added to that, by criticising the process by which O'Brien was exonerated:
Then you have a situation where a guy [O'Brien] later gets cited, and we don't know why he got off. That's not good for the game. They should just come out, you get told and then say, 'Well I can accept that or I can't accept it, but we have to get on with it because that's what they've decided'. Those things should be automatic.
He also took the opportunity to put some pressure on the referee and his team of officials this weekend,
Then we ask referees in the game to see off-side, see the ruck. Then we talk about ARs [assistant referees], but they're all referees and their skill is not watching what they have been asked to watch.
Their skill is to watch what's happening at the breakdown because that's what they do. If we are really genuine we would say, 'You are the ref, you two are the ARs for the season'. That's one thing they do well in football, so you're a team and you get judged as a team.
I will get into trouble for saying this, but the referees need help because they can't do what we're asking them to do, and then they become overly influential in a game.
All of Hansen's quotes are here, on the
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