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Lions’ O’Brien cleared of dangerous play – free to play in third Test

Sean O'Brien

Irishman Sean O’Brien was “outstanding” in the second Test, according to assistant coach Graham Rowntree

British and Irish Lions flanker Sean O’Brien is free to play in Saturday’s third Test against the All Blacks after being cleared of dangerous play.

O’Brien was alleged to have struck New Zealand wing Waisake Noholo during the second half in Wellington on Saturday.

However, he was found innocent at a hearing on Sunday and will be free to play in Auckland.

All Black Sonny Bill Williams has been banned for four weeks for his shoulder charge into Anthony Watson’s face.

After the hearing on Sunday, the 31-year-old said he was “really disappointed, but happy with being able to get in there and say my piece”.

He added: “They’ve come to the conclusion that it was reckless – it wasn’t intentional. I’m very disappointed that I’ve let my brothers down.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek, former All Blacks coach Graham Henry said the centre had “made a mistake”.

“He’ll be extremely disappointed that he has let his team down and people understand that. It wasn’t intentional,” he added.

Discipline will ‘kill’ Lions

Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree said Leinster forward O’Brien was “outstanding” in the 24-21 victory at the Westpac Stadium.

“He’s the barometer of our energy and aggression in the game,” Rowntree said. “His ball pressure, his tackling, his carrying – he’s been outstanding.

“We’ve got a class group of back rowers and I’d have no qualms about anyone else stepping up.”

Rowntree also warned players are at risk of losing their places in the side because of ill discipline.

The Lions conceded 13 penalties in Wellington – 10 of which were kickable – and it was only Beauden Barrett’s profligacy from the tee that kept the tourists alive.

“We have got to sort it out because it is going to kill us,” Rowntree added.

“We have to sit them down and show them every day. We can’t be doing this. We have to keep reiterating that point to the players.

“We can’t lose a Test series on the back of some stupid penalties. That would be unacceptable. How do you live with that for the rest of your life?”

Prop Mako Vunipola received a yellow card in the second half as the Lions lost their discipline and composure, and Rowntree says players will be dropped by coach Warren Gatland if necessary.

“If that is what it takes. Gats has shown he is not afraid of doing things like that,” Rowntree said.

“But it is not as if it is the same offenders. We will be very frank and objective with the lads. The pictures are undeniable. That will be a big theme of the week.”

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