Tuesday 19 February 2019

Six Nations role uncertain for suspended Jack McGrath as Leinster ponder stamp appeal

Jack McGrath. Photo: Sportsfile
Jack McGrath. Photo: Sportsfile
Jack McGrath
David Kelly

David Kelly

IRELAND coach Joe Schmidt will not interfere if Leinster decide to challenge a suspension handed down to Jack McGrath for stamping - even though the prop could miss the start of the Six Nations if the appeal is thrown out.

The Leinster loosehead was last week banned for three weeks by Pro12 chiefs for stamping on Rory Best during the win against Ulster, and he is allowed to appeal.

However, suspensions can be increased during the appeal process, which could endanger McGrath initial participation in Ireland's Six Nations championship defence, which begins in Rome against Italy on February 7.

That could cause a major headache for Schmidt. Cian Healy remains sidelined as he continues to recover from hamstring surgery although James Cronin did at least return to Munster colours last weekend.

However, the Irish Independent has been told that the IRFU will "have no input" into any decision by Leinster concerning an appeal.

The province are still dissecting the written judgment from Pro12 disciplinary chiefs and they have another 24 hours in which to decide whether or not to gamble on launching an appeal.

The disciplinary committee initially judged McGrath's was a mid-range offence with an entry point, according to World Rugby regulations, of five weeks.

The ban was then reduced by two weeks in light of the player's unblemished record, together with his conduct at the hearing.

Leinster now have to decide whether the ban should have been dealt with as a lower category offence, allowing him to play in this weekend's European Champions Cup tie against Castres, while there was also disquiet that other offences in the game were not similarly punished.

Leinster captain Jamie Heaslip will not be risked against Castres this weekend unless he is 100pc fit.

Meanwhile, Saracens' lock George Kruis could miss his club's defining European Champions Cup tie against Munster this weekend, not to mention the entire Six Nations, after being cited for a tip tackle on the Gloucester wing David Halaifonua.

Referee JP Doyle initially only dished out a yellow card having reviewed the incident on the big screen during last Friday's game but the citing commissioner disagreed and the hearing will take place this evening.

Irish Independent

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