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Bad outweighs good for Healy

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Cian Healy (centre) of the British and Irish Lions arrives for the hearing into allegations of biting at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane

Cian Healy (centre) of the British and Irish Lions arrives for the hearing into allegations of biting at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane

Cian Healy (centre) of the British and Irish Lions arrives for the hearing into allegations of biting at the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane

IRELAND prop Cian Healy will have to deal with the pain of missing out on the British & Irish Lions' three Tests in Australia due to significant ankle ligament damage.

The news comes in tandem with his innocent verdict from an allegation of biting the arm of Westen Force scrum-half Brett Sheehan on Wednesday.

Judicial officer Nigel Hampton found insufficient evidence to support the allegations, the Australian Rugby Union said in a statement today.

"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."

The vindication of Healy's good name is important to the prop, who was suspended for stamping on the outstretched legs of England tight-head Dan Cole in the Six Nations.

"I am very relieved that the hearing has cleared me of such an allegation. I was naturally very disappointed that there was a citing in the first place," he said in a Lions statement.

"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.

"The support I had from the management and all the lads was wonderful and I am glad that it is all over."

Allegations of serious foul play, both from and against the tourists, are a frequent accompaniment to the quadrennial tours and Lions manager Andy Irvine said it was important the Irishman had been found not guilty.

"We always believed that Cian had done nothing wrong and had not acted maliciously in any way," the Scot said. "The decision was important to the player's and indeed squad's integrity as the allegation was a serious one."

Sadly, Healy's tour is still all over, prompting coach Warren Gatland to summon Scotland's Ryan Grant out to Australia, given that Wales' Gethin Jenkins is still suffering from a tight calf.

Mako Vunipola will start at loose-head against Queensland Reds tomorrow following a barnstorming impact against the Western Force.

"Firstly, our thoughts are with Cian. It has been a day of mixed emotions for him after being quite rightly being cleared of foul play," said Gatland.

"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. Gethin has trained all week but he felt some tightness in his calf today, so it's right not to play him. We will assess him over the next 24-48 hours but Mako has done well in the last two games and this is another chance for him to step up.

"Given Cian's injury we have decided to bring Ryan in. He has played well in the RaboDirect Pro 12 this season and for Scotland in the RBS Six Nations and we look forward to him and Alex Corbisiero arriving tomorrow."

FACE

The Lions tour continues tomorrow at Lang Park. They face the Wallabies in the first Test on June 22.

Gatland has made 13 changes for the Reds clash, with only Manu Tuilagi and Tommy Bowe retained. Tuilagi moves to outside-centre alongside Jonathan Davies, while Bowe switches to the left wing.

Tour captain Sam Warburton, who becomes the 800th Lion, make their first starts of the trip. Warburton will be charged with keeping a close watch on Australian fly-half Quade Cooper this weekend.


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