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Horwill cleared for third test

Horwill was cited for stamping on the head of Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones.

File: Australian Wallabies captain James Horwill and flyhalf James O'Connor celebrate after defeating the British and Irish Lions in the second rugby test match, in Melbourne on June 29, 2013.

SYDNEY - Australia captain James Horwill will play in this weekend's third test against the British and Irish Lions after being cleared of stamping for a second time in a fortnight on Tuesday.

Horwill was cited for stamping on the head of Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones in the first test in Brisbane but exonerated by New Zealand judicial officer Nigel Hampton on 23 June only for the International Rugby Board (IRB) to appeal.

Horwill thanked the Australian public for what he described as their overwhelming support throughout the process.

"I feel very vindicated... I know what happened and I'm glad that the right result was come to in the end."

Horwill said it meant a lot to him to be representing his country in what he termed "the biggest game since the World Cup final in 2003."

The appeals officer Graeme Mew, who is based in Canada, delivered his decision following a lengthy hearing on Monday and said the appeal would only have been upheld if the IRB had established a clear mistake on Hampton's part.

"There was sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable judicial officer could have reached the decision that was made," Mew said in an Australian Rugby Union (ARU) statement.

Mew said the IRB had been right to appeal in their role as promoters of player welfare and protectors of the image of the game, something the governing body said was a major reason for making the appeal.

"While ultimately not proving successful in its appeal, the IRB is satisfied that it took the right approach... to lodge an appeal in the interests of player welfare as well as to uphold the disciplinary rules," the body said in a statement.

The decision to re-litigate the issue had provoked outrage in Australia, with the ARU themselves expressing they were "surprised and disappointed" at the appeal.

The Lions are without Sam Warburton after he injured his hamstring.

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