Lions in Australia

Healy ruled out of Lions tour

2013-06-07 14:02
Cian Healy (Getty Images)
Brisbane - Cian Healy was forced to pull out of the British and Irish Lions' tour of Australia due to an ankle injury on Friday, hours after being cleared of biting at a disciplinary hearing in Brisbane.

The Irish prop damaged ankle ligaments in Wednesday's victory over Force in Perth and the Lions said they expected him to be sidelined for the duration of the tour.

Welsh prop Gethin Jenkins has also been ruled out of the Lions' match against the Reds on Saturday due to a calf injury.

Scotland's Ryan Grant has been drafted into the squad to provide cover, although Mako Vunipola will deputise for Jenkins against the Reds.

The Lions management have already called up England prop Alex Corbisiero as cover for Healy.

"Firstly, our thoughts are with Cian," said Lions head coach Warren Gatland.

"It has been a day of mixed emotions for him after being quite rightly being cleared of foul play, but then the scan revealing the extent of the damage to his ankle. He has made a big contribution on and off the field in the last two weeks and we wish him well in his recovery."

Grant, 27, was scheduled to leave Scotland's tour of South Africa later on Friday, meaning he will miss his country's match against Samoa on Saturday.

"This time last year I got my first cap. Now I'm heading out to Australia to represent Scotland for the Lions," Grant said in a statement released by Scottish Rugby.

"What can you say? It's been so fast I've not really had time to process it. It's the top of the game. To call myself a Lion is the greatest honour."

Earlier on Friday, Healy escaped a lengthy ban after being cleared of biting Force scrum-half Brett Sheehan in the Lions' opening tour match.

Sheehan claimed he had been bitten during a 17th-minute maul and Healy was cited under a law relating to good sportsmanship. He denied the allegation.

After a two-and-a-half-hour hearing, judicial officer Nigel Hampton found insufficient evidence to support the allegations.

In his findings, Hampton stated that on the balance of probabilities he was not satisfied that Healy had bitten Sheehan.

"There is no conclusive video evidence of the incident and post-match it was not possible to distinguish any discernible bite marks outside of the 'regular' marks usually found following a rugby match," Hampton said in his findings.

"I cannot find proven on the balance of probabilities that there was a deliberate bite here, and the citing complaint is not upheld."

Hampton said that during the tackle, Sheehan's arm may have come into contact with Healy's mouth and due to the pressure of the tackle, it was likely that there was unavoidable contact between Healy's teeth and his opponent's arm.

Speaking after the hearing, but before he had been ruled out of the tour, Healy expressed relief at the outcome.

"I am glad that it is all over," he told reporters. "I was naturally very disappointed that there was a citing in the first place.

"I always maintained that nothing happened and that I had done nothing illegal. The opposition player's arm hit me. It is as simple as that."

Tour manager Andy Irvine said the clearance was important to both Healy and the Lions squad's integrity.

"We always believed that Cian had done nothing wrong and had not acted maliciously in any way," Irvine said.

Past punishments for biting have been heavy, including an 18-month suspension handed down to South Africa's Johan Le Roux in 1994.

Read more on:    lions in australia  |  cian healy  |  rugby

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