A charge of stamping against James Horwill of Australia has not been upheld
Last Updated: 23/06/13 3:24pm
James Horwill: Free to play next weekend
Australia captain James Horwill will be available to play in the second Test against the Lions next Saturday after his citing for stamping was dismissed.
Horwill had to attend a disciplinary hearing in Melbourne on Sunday, having been cited for stamping on Lions lock Alun-Wyn Jones in the third minute of Saturday's dramatic opening Test.
However, judicial officer Nigel Hampton QC ruled that, on the balance of probabilities, he could not find Horwill guilty of stamping or trampling on his fellow second rower.
The hearing lasted almost four hours and the verdict is likely anger the Lions, who referred the incident, which left Jones requiring stitches, to the citing officer.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland said after the match: "I played in the days when rucking was allowed and I've still got some scars that bear witness to the ruckings I had but, for me, the head was sacrosanct and you stayed away from that."
But Hampton explained: "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, he was acting recklessly.
"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 Lions won the tumultuous Brisbane encounter 23-21 and need to triumph in just one of the remaining two Tests to claim the series.
But the Aussies, who were beset with injuries during Saturday's match, will at least have their captain available when they try to level the contest at 1-1 in Melbourne next weekend.