Nonu may be cited for tackle

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The Independent Online

New Zealand left Ireland yesterday to prepare for Saturday's Test against England still awaiting news on whether Ma'a Nonu would be cited for an alleged spear tackle on the Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy.

Irish newspapers carried graphic pictures of the second-half incident. A citing, which would be made by Douglas Hunter, the independent commissioner appointed by the International Rugby Board in conjunction with the Six Nations, must be made within 48 hours of the incident.

"We don't want those sort of things happening in the game," said New Zealand's head coach Graham Henry after the crushing victory at Lansdowne Road.

"I know it was not done deliberately but we need to try to make sure this sort of thing does not happen, or at least happens very rarely. We are disappointed with Ma'a."

D'Arcy was not injured and stayed on the field, but in the wake of the row over Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu's similar tackle on the British and Irish Lions centre and captain Brian O'Driscoll in the first Test last June, Nonu's tackle was bound to cause consternation among press and public alike.

O'Driscoll suffered a dislocated shoulder in Christchurch, which meant he missed Saturday's one-sided Test in Dublin.

Henry, however, was not anticipating any action being taken on the tackle. "The referee was there and he has adjudicated on it, so I assume that is OK," he said.

A fortnight ago the International Rugby Board said that spear tacklers would be dealt with harshly. Since the South African referee Jonathan Kaplan did not send Nonu to the sin bin, instead giving the centre a brief lecture, it would seem the game's rulers have little choice but to take action.

Ireland are hoping that their acting captain, the Llanelli Scarlets flanker Simon Easterby, will recover from a facial injury in time to face Australia on Saturday. The news is not so hopeful for the scrum-half Peter Stringer, who has a calf problem and is unlikely to be fit to play.

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