Lions 2013: James Horwill cleared to play for Australia in final Test

James Horwill


ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Saturday, 6 July
11:00 BST (20:00 local)
Live text commentary on BBC Sport website, updates on BBC Radio 5 live

Australia captain James Horwill has been cleared to play in the final Test against the British and Irish Lions.

The International Rugby Board's appeal against a citing commission's decision to clear the lock forward of stamping in the first Test was turned down.

Horwill was cited after his boot made contact with Alun Wyn Jones's head.

"I'm very relieved. I was confident because I know what happened and I'm glad the right result was made in the end," said Horwill.

"It means a hell of a lot to me to lead my country in what is probably the biggest game since the World Cup final in 2003.

"I'm very excited by the opportunity and now we can focus on the game, which is what's important. I feel vindicated by the ruling."

Horwill, 28, brought his foot down on Jones's head in the third minute of Australia's 23-21 defeat in Brisbane and the Welsh second row subsequently required stitches in a wound above his eye.

Judicial officer Nigel Hampton QC cleared Horwill at the initial hearing after deciding he could not be certain the Australia captain had intentionally stamped on Jones while the Lions lock was lying on the ground.

That meant the Wallaby second row was free to lead Australia to a 16-15 win in the second Test in Melbourne on Saturday.

But there was criticism of the original judgement and the IRB reacted by announcing on Thursday that it would appeal against the citing commission's decision following an extensive review of the case.

That appeal was heard on Monday by independent appeal officer Graeme Mew, who is based in Canada.

Mew said: "There was sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable judicial officer could have reached the decision [to clear Horwill].

"Accordingly it could not be said that the judicial officer was manifestly wrong or that the interests of justice otherwise required his decision be overturned."

Former Australia fly-half Stephen Larkham believes having Horwill available for the series decider in Sydney will give the hosts a "massive boost".

"He is a massive leader on the field and around the ground. His line-out work, scrummaging and ball carries are excellent," added Larkham.

"There is no-one in Australian rugby as good as him. I would say it would be hard to see anyone in world rugby that is as good as he is."

Former England captain Lewis Moody, who toured New Zealand with the Lions in 2005, believes Warren Gatland's team will see the decision as a "positive" because it removes any possible excuses for the hosts.

"They will think 'we want to beat Australia and we know we can beat Australia'," he told the BBC.

"They will not want any doubt about it. If Australia have their captain there and they have their best team on the pitch when they are beaten, the Lions will know there will be no complaints."

has been ruled out of Saturday's series decider by a hamstring injury suffered in the second Test.

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