Experts in biomechanics were behind Jordie Barrett's exoneration at a judicial hearing this week, with the All Blacks fullback having his red card dismissed by the panel.
Barrett was sent off 28 minutes into the All Blacks' 38-21 win over the Wallabies in Perth on Sunday after raising his foot while catching a high ball and collecting Wallabies wing Marika Koroibete in the face.
The 24-year-old was charged with contravening law 9.11 – players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others – and faced a four-week ban if found guilty.
However, experts in the field helped the All Blacks build their successful defence of the act as a biomechanical consequence of his movement rather than a malicious act.
Professor Patria Hume of the Auckland University of Technology and Professor Mark Sayers of the University of Sunshine Coast provided the team with independent biomechanical analysis of the incident.
Hume said Barrett used a standard technique of raising his knee to gain jump height, but because he had overrun the ball and had to lean back to collect it, the act in question was a necessary movement to avoid putting himself at risk of injury.
"Jordie did not 'kick' his leg out as his knee angle remained close to 90 degrees from the time of takeoff from the ground to the impact on Koroibete's body during the landing," Hume said.
"Jordie's hip flexion was necessary to stop the backwards rotation of his body due to his trunk position. Had he not flexed at the hip he could have landed on his head.
"Due to the laws of motion, Jordie's landing position was predetermined when he left the ground, and he could not have changed it deliberately."
It was a compelling case, and saw Barrett have his red card dismissed, making him available to play in this weekend's test against Argentina.
Speaking about the process to clear Barrett's name, All Blacks assistant coach Brad Mooar said they had to act quickly in order to put their case together, and credited the work of Hume and Sayers.
He said he and All Blacks manager Darren Shand were on the phone with legal counsel Stephen Cottrell immediately after Sunday's game to discuss the matter before deciding to fight the charge and get their defence ready for Tuesday's hearing.
"There's time," Mooar said of the process, "but you have to be really efficient and quick with that, and in the meantime you're also dealing with reviewing a game and previewing another one and making sure you're getting your pieces together to prepare the team.
"We can totally understand how the officials got to their decision of a red card in the heat of the moment after seeing what had happened in the short time frame that they get to make a decision and move on. We can understand that.
"What we had is the benefit of the ability to take our time to show what had happened, to put the expert evidence forward. Jordie has played over 100 first class games, 28 tests, and has probably taken six or seven high balls in every one of those games, and this is the first time we've ever had this incident with him so there's absolutely no technique issue."
Barrett will be free to play for the All Blacks in this Sunday's test against Argentina on the Gold Coast should he be selected, with the team now firmly focused on taking out the Rugby Championship.
While the All Blacks have kicked off their tournament campaign with back-to-back wins, the Pumas have started with two straight defeats to South Africa.
Argentina picked up their first-ever test win over the All Blacks in Sydney last November, but were dealt a 38-0 defeat the following week. Mooar said the side were taking plenty out of those two fixtures as they adjust their game plan from the Wallabies to the Pumas.
"I guess from the nature of having two games against them last year, there's absolutely no chance of being surprised by the power, the attitude and the ability of the Pumas. That's a great thing for us to be able to go into this game with."