Liam Squire will be available for New Zealand’s opening Test against France on Saturday after being cleared of striking an opponent with his shoulder.
Squire was alleged to have caught TJ Perenara during the Highlanders’ Super Rugby clash with the Hurricanes, the flanker catching his All Blacks team-mate at a ruck in the 12th minute at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
It was spotted by referee Ben O’Keeffe at the time, but the official only deemed it worthy of a penalty.
Following the match it was confirmed the SANZAAR citing commissioner deemed that the incident should have warranted a red card, putting Squire’s chances of featuring against France next weekend in doubt.
However, the governing body’s foul play review committee dismissed the case, meaning he will be available to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.
“The Foul Play Review Committee found that the player had legitimately entered the ruck ‘through the gate’, and not at great speed, with the intent of cleaning out the other player,” Committee chairman Nigel Hampton said in a statement.
“The player had taken up, and held, a correct body position in order to try and effect the clean out, with his upper body and head in a horizontal plane and with both his hands (neither with closed fists) in a position to be able to engage and grapple with the other player around his torso (about the level of the shoulder blades).
“As the player entered the ruck, and immediately before he engaged with the other player, that other player was in a head down, bottom up, position facing in the direction of the player.
“At the very last moment the other player dropped down on his knees (possibly, in part, as a result of the actions of other players), and brought his upper body, shoulders and head up, directly into the line of the committed Squire.
“The resulting impact between the two, which was not of significant force (and did not require any HIA), was virtually instantaneous. In these circumstances the citing was not made out on the evidence.
“The player is therefore free to play.”
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