The citing of Sean O’Brien for an alledged swinging arm on Waisake Naholo would have given Warren Gatland and his coaches much to ponder if he hadn’t been cleared.
British and Irish Lions flanker Sean O’Brien is free to play the third rugby test against the All Blacks after his citing for allegedly striking wing Waisake Naholo was dismissed.
In a significant boost for the touring side, an all-Australian judicial panel of Adam Casselden, David Croft and John Langford cleared O’Brien after a marathon hearing at New Zealand Rugby headquarters in Wellington on Sunday. It stretched over three and a half hours.
It was a big day for the panel who earlier rubbed All Blacks second five-eighth Sonny Bill Williams out of the Auckland test with a four-week ban for a shoulder charge to the head of Lions wing Anthony Watson during the second test, won 24-21 by the Lions.
I thought the video clip did look like his arm had caught Naholo, although it was apparent that O’Brien couldn’t have seen that it would connect with his head as another All Black was in the way.
That often isn’t accepted as a defence and the dismissal is a real boost for the Lions – O’Brien was a star at the Westpac.
The players who might have benefitted (sic) from a ban include Justin Tipuric, Courtney Lawes and Iain Henderson – but none will begrudge Sean O’Brien getting another crack at history in Auckland.