British and Irish Lions 2017: Boost for Warren Gatland as Sean O'Brien's citing complaint dismissed

 
Ross McLean
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New Zealand v British & Irish Lions
O'Brien scored the Lions during the first Test in Auckland (Source: Getty)

The British and Irish Lions were handed a boost in their bid to claim a first series victory over New Zealand since 1971 when flanker Sean O’Brien’s citing compliant was dismissed.

Leinster’s O’Brien was reported by match citing commissioner Scott Rowland for allegedly striking New Zealand wing Waisake Naholo during the Lions’ 24-21 victory in Saturday’s second Test in Wellington.

O’Brien will be available for the series decider at Eden Park, where the All Blacks have not been beaten since 1994, this weekend after appearing before a three-man judicial hearing.

The 30-year-old denied he had committed the said offence, while the citing complaint was subsequently dismissed.

“We’d like to thank the panel for their professional and diligent approach,” said Lions head coach Warren Gatland. “Sean is a tough but fair player and we are pleased that the panel dismissed the citing.”

O’Brien said: “I am looking forward to rejoining the whole squad to prepare for the final Test.”

New Zealand Rugby had earlier handed a four-week ban to centre Sonny Bill Williams, ruling him out of the third Test, following his first-half sending off at the Westpac Stadium.

Williams was shown a red card in the 25th minute by French referee Jerome Garces after he shoulder charged into the head of Lions wing Anthony Watson. Ahead of the hearing, world champions New Zealand called up Malakai Fekitoa.

Having tied the match at 21-21 following a converted try from scrum-half Conor Murray, No10 Owen Farrell kicked the Lions to parity in the three-match series on Saturday with a penalty four minutes from time.

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