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NZ hooker Keven Mealamu gets ban reduced on appeal

Keven Mealamu
Mealamu is tackled by Moody during the All Blacks' win over England

New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu has had his four-week ban for striking England captain Lewis Moody with his head reduced to two weeks on appeal.

Mealamu will miss the Tests in Scotland on Saturday and Ireland on 20 November but can return in Wales on 27 November.

The 31-year-old grabbed Moody's shirt and appeared to move his head towards the back of the flanker's during the All Blacks' 26-16 win last Saturday.

He denied striking Moody but was still banned after a hearing on Tuesday.

Mealamu said he was pleased the ban had been reduced and pledged to be more careful in the future.

"For me there's a lot of relief. It's been a tough week having something like this hang over my head," he stated.

"I've never, ever played the game to ever hurt anyone.

"To finally get this come through to say the way I did things was pretty reckless is a lot better than saying I intentionally tried to headbutt someone."

An International Rugby Board appeal committee chaired by South Africa's Peter Ingwersen met in Edinburgh on Friday and determined the incident was not intentional, halving the ban.

606: DEBATE
EmbraRoss

A statement from the independent IRB committee read: "Although they upheld the original decision that there had been an act of foul play, having had the opportunity to review the video footage, the appeal committee concluded that the act was not intentional and that it merited a lower end entry point in the IRB list of sanctions, namely four weeks."

New Zealand had selected Mealamu for the Scotland game in the hope that the ban would be completely overturned, but Hikawera Elliot will now make his Test debut at Murrayfield.

Mealamu's initial ban had infuriated the All Blacks' management, with assistant coach Steve Hansen vowing to "go to the death" to clear the player's name.

"Everyone knows it's not in his nature to do that and everyone knows if Kevvy says he didn't do it, he didn't do it," Hansen commented.

Mealamu, a veteran of 82 Tests, said at the time: "I'm gutted to be honest, really disappointed. I don't feel the outcome shows what sort of person I am.

"I've played more than 100 Super games and 82 Tests and never had any foul play against me.

"I do take it personally. I'm not that sort of person."

Mike Tindall of England

Highlights - England 16-26 New Zealand



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see also
Mealamu banned for rest of tour
09 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Johnson frustrated by slow start
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
England 16-26 New Zealand
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Autumn Tests as they happened
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Australia 26-24 New Zealand
30 Oct 10 |  Rugby Union


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