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Healy in a bind

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28 January 2013; Ireland's Cian Healy during squad training ahead of their opening RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match against Wales on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

28 January 2013; Ireland's Cian Healy during squad training ahead of their opening RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match against Wales on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

28 January 2013; Ireland's Cian Healy during squad training ahead of their opening RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match against Wales on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

IRELAND prop Cian Healy will be at the mercy of an Independent Six Nations Disciplinary Committee (SNDC) in London tomorrow.

The loose-head will have to answer for what looks like an open-and-shut case when he seemed to stamp down with his left foot onto the outstretched legs of England tight-head Dan Cole at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday.

The only mitigating factor appeared to be that Cole was making no effort to move away from the ball on Ireland's side of a ruck. This will hardly constitute much of a defence.

Healy has been cited by the Independent Citing Commissioner, Italian Alberto Recaldini. The alleged act of foul play is contrary to Law 10.4 (b) which states that "a player must not stamp or trample on an opponent".

The sanction for a guilty verdict at the low end of the scale starts at two weeks, mid-range at five weeks and the top-end starts at nine weeks, according to the Six Nations.

At the very least, Healy will probably have to miss out on the cross-channel journey to Scotland on Sunday week with France (March 9) and Italy (March 16) also in the frame.

The former Belvedere College prop has always been one to play right on the edge of the game, earning him a fierce reputation as a competitor.

However, the Six Nations Discipline Committee is certain to take Healy's clean record into account. He has never been red carded for foul play or cited and suspended for foul play.

Indeed, Healy was on the receiving end of a stamp to the head in October 2009 when Munster's John Hayes was banned for five weeks for use of the boot that opened up a gash on the Leinsterman's face.

In a subsequent incident, Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini was suspended for 15 weeks for an attempted eye gouge on Healy at the 2011 World Cup.

Meanwhile, Ireland coach Declan Kidney received the unwanted news that Jonathan Sexton strained his hamstring to make him very doubtful for the Scotland match.

There will be an almighty scramble for the back-up role for Ireland. Ulster's Paddy Jackson, Leinster's Ian Madigan and Munster's Ian Keatley are all in the mix.

Jackson is not exactly brimming with confidence given his demotion to the bench for Ulster's Heineken Cup match at Castres Olympique last month. The 20-year-old has not played since making a cameo appearance in that game.

Mastermind

In contrast, Madigan was the mastermind behind Leinster's PRO12 League decision over Cardiff Blues last Friday night, striking 16 points.

Not to be outdone, Ian Keatley hit 20 points for Munster in a Man of the Match display in their 30-3 dismissal of Edinburgh at Musgrave Park on Saturday.

Wing Simon Zebo has fractured the fifth metatarsal in his right foot. He underwent surgery yesterday with an expected 8-10 week recovery period.

Lock Mike McCarthy picked up a strain to the medial ligament in his right knee and is considered doubtful for the Scotland game.

Brian O'Driscoll (right ankle) and Donnacha Ryan (back) will also see a specialist in the middle of this week to examine their fitness for Scotland.


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