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Sean O'Brien free to play after citing is dismissed

Available: Sean O'Brien in action against the All Blacks
Available: Sean O'Brien in action against the All Blacks

British and Irish Lions flanker Sean O'Brien is free to play in Saturday's Test series decider against New Zealand after a citing complaint was dismissed.

O'Brien was reported by match citing commissioner Scott Rowland for allegedly striking New Zealand wing Waisake Naholo during Saturday's second Test.

O'Brien denied he committed an offence during a three-man judicial hearing in Wellington on Sunday, with the citing complaint subsequently dismissed, the New Zealand Rugby Union announced.

In a statement, New Zealand Rugby said: "British and Irish Lions player Sean O'Brien was cited by independent citing commissioner Scott Nowland under Law 10.4 (a) for striking All Blacks No. 14 in the second Test match played between the All Blacks and the British and Irish Lions on Saturday, 1 July 2017 at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

"O'Brien denied he committed an offence under Law 10.4(a).

"Having conducted a detailed review of all the evidence available, including all video footage and additional evidence from the player and submissions from his legal representative Max Duthie, the independent judicial committee comprising Adam Casselden SC (chair), David Croft and John Langford dismissed the citing complaint."

The news is a huge boost for the Lions as they target victory in Auckland next weekend, which would give them a first Test series triumph against New Zealand since 1971.

Uncompromising Leinster forward O'Brien impressed in the second Test win, and he is set to be a key part of Lions head coach Warren Gatland's plans at Eden Park.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's hearing, Lions assistant coach Graham Rowntree paid O'Brien a glowing compliment.

"Sean had an outstanding game carrying the ball for us on Saturday," Rowntree said.

"He's the barometer of our energy and aggression in the game; his ball pressure, his tackling, his carrying. He's been outstanding."