Thorburn's surprise as New Zealand's Andrew Hore handed five-week suspension for striking Bradley Davies
FORMER Wales captain Paul Thorburn reckons Andrew Hore can consider himself a lucky man after the New Zealander was banned for just five weeks for striking Bradley Davies in last Saturday's Test in Cardiff.
Hore will miss only two competitive games because of the suspension.
Davies needed to be taken to hospital after being hit from behind by the hooker just 30 seconds into the All Blacks' 33-10 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
The International Rugby Board's judicial officer, Professor Lorne Crerar, deemed the swinging arm offence to be "inherently dangerous" but accepted Hore had not intended to strike Davies in the head.
Hore was initially hit with an eight-week ban for a top-end offence but that was reduced to five when Professor Crerar took into account mitigating factors.
Those included Hore's daily contact with Davies since the incident, his "genuine remorse", as well as his exemplary disciplinary record.
The incident, which was missed by referee Craig Joubert and his assistants, left Davies with concussion that has ruled him out of Wales's final autumn Test against Australia.
Hore will miss his country's game with England on Saturday, three pre-season matches in New Zealand and the first round of the 2013 Super Rugby tournament.
But Thorburn, who was playing for Wales when Kevin Moseley received a 32-week ban for a stamping offence against France in 1990, feels there will be plenty of raised eyebrows over the leniency of the ban.
"I'm surprised he has received only five weeks because what he did came across as cynical and dangerous," he said.
"People have pointed out that Bradley may have been blocking him with his line of running, but that is still no excuse for launching a blow that connects with the neck and head area.
"Hore was damn lucky that he did not catch Bradley on the temple because that would have been altogether more serious.
"As it was, it was an outrageous and disgraceful way to behave on the pitch, so in that respect he is fortunate the punishment hasn't been more severe.
"There is a problem with inconsistency across the board in rugby, whether it be with refereeing or the handing out of bans.
"New Zealand are an attractive side who play great rugby, so what Hore did was in many ways out of keeping with the modern All Blacks.
"There is no place for it on a rugby field.
"It sends out a terrible message to youngsters who are thinking of taking up the game."
Hore's ban will run until February 24 of next year to ensure he misses the three Super Rugby pre-season matches for the Highlanders.
Earlier this week, Wales declined to officially rule Davies out of contention for Saturday's encounter with Australia, but the lock was badly concussed immediately after the New Zealand game, since revealing he had a three-day memory loss.
"My last memory before the game was last Wednesday and my mind has pretty much gone blank since then," he said.
"I was in college doing a plumbing course and I cut my finger with a hacksaw. That was the last thing I can remember.
"I was actually only out cold for a couple of seconds on Saturday, but when I came to, I had lost all my short-term memory.
"That was strange because that had never happened to me before. After the game I was gone and I did not have a clue what was going on."
Reaction to the ban has been mixed.
Ex-Wales captain and coach Clive Rowlands, himself at the heart of a controversial incident which saw him carried off in the 1963 Test against the All Blacks, said: "The most important thing is that Andrew Hore has been punished. He did wrong, he has been suspended and that should be the end of the matter."
But former Wales hooker Bobby Windsor took an old-school line, saying: "Bradley shouldn't have been trying to block him.
"If you do that it's your own fault if someone gives you a dig.
"And don't get me started on suspensions. Twenty-odd years ago Kevin Moseley had a 32-week ban for stamping when he had actually missed the bloke he was stamping on.
"Thirty-two weeks for missing — that was a ridiculous ban.
"The All Blacks have always been likely to punch you in the mush if you let them. It is a physical game and you have to be physical back."