Crusaders forward Pablo Matera was cleared on Wednesday to play in the Super Rugby Pacific final against the Blues, despite being sent off in the semi-finals.
Argentina captain Matera successfully defended his case after accumulating four yellow cards across the season, triggering an automatic Sanzaar judicial committee hearing for repeat sin-bin offences.
It found there was “no pattern of persistent offending” in the 28-year-old’s playing style, leaving him free for selection in Saturday’s decider at Auckland’s Eden Park.
Matera picked up two yellow cards, resulting in a sending-off, in the Crusaders’ 20-7 semi-final win over the Chiefs.
His availability is critical, given the Christchurch-based side are without the services of injured All Blacks loose forward Ethan Blackadder and are awaiting the diagnosis of the thumb injury which ruled Test veteran Sam Whitelock out of the semi-final.
Coach Scott Robertson said the Crusaders are also nursing numerous “bumps and bruises” after being forced to make about 250 combined tackles in an exhausting defensive performance against the Chiefs.
The Blues, who have won 15 successive matches in securing a home final, reported no injury problems this week following their 20-19 semi-final win over the ACT Brumbies.
They are hoping two All Blacks who didn’t feature in that game – Dalton Papali’i and Caleb Clarke – will be declared fit as they chase a first title since 2004.
© Agence France-Presse
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