Australia – Rugby Union: Horwill free to captain Wallabies

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Australia captain James Horwill is a relieved man after being cleared of a charge of rucking in first Test against the British & Irish Lions.

The second-rower had to endure a nervous 12-hour wait before learning that Toronto-based appeals officer Graeme Mew, having viewed the evidence, decided to call in his favour, meaning he is free to lead the Wallabies at the ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

Mew failed to agree with the International Rugby Board’s (IRB) controversial appeal, siding instead with New Zealand judicial officer Nigel Hampton’s original judgement that Horwill did not deliberately or recklessly stamp on rival lock Alun Wyn Jones.

A very happy Horwill said: “I wouldn’t like to see another player go through that but, as I said, it was incredibly fair and thorough in both hearings.

“I feel very vindicated by the way it’s gone.

“I love what I do and it means a hell of a lot to me to represent my country and not only to represent it but to lead it – what is arguably the biggest game in this country since the Rugby World Cup final in 2003.

“I’m excited at that opportunity and now we can focus on the game, which is important.”

The Wallabies have had to bounce back in the recent past from big losses to the likes of New Zealand, South Africa and France, and will not need reminding of the importance of this winner-takes-all clash in Sydney.

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