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All Blacks to appeal Mealamu ban

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NZPA     11 Nov 2010     Getty Images

All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen confirmed an appeal will be lodged and possibly heard by a three-member IRB panel on Friday.

Hansen, who formed part of Mealamu's defence team during the two hour hearing, said All Blacks management was determined to protect Mealamu's reputation.

"We're defending a guy who's character has been questioned and it shouldn't be," he said.
"He's a one-off special person. He hasn't got a dirty bone in his body.

"He's not a dirty player, he never has been. This is a case we'll go to the death on."

Hansen said Mealamu's teammates shared the 31-year-old's disappointment when the verdict was conveyed.

"The guys were gutted because he can't play and more importantly they were gutted for Kevvy because of the man he is," Hansen said.

"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."

It is understood Mealamu's defence centred on the claim he made contact with Moody with his shoulder, not his head.

If the ban is rescinded there was no guarantee Mealamu would be selected to play Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday (NZT).

"It's been quite emotional for Kevvy," said Hansen, who indicated the uncapped Hawke's Bay hooker Hika Elliot was likely to make his test debut.