Friday 24 January 2020

McAllister citing being thrown out is good for rugby - Friend

Andy Friend: Staying positive. Photo: Sportsfile
Andy Friend: Staying positive. Photo: Sportsfile

Declan Rooney

Connacht coach Andy Friend said it was for the good of the game that prop Paddy McAllister had his citing for a dangerous tackle on Marcell Coetzee thrown out.

The collision between the two players was deemed to have been an accidental clash by the league's disciplinary committee and, as a result, McAllister will be available to face Leinster on Saturday - if he shakes off the effects of a head injury and completes his return to play protocols.

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Friend admitted he was thrilled that McAllister was cleared, and as well as speaking to PRO14 referees' chief Greg Garner about the incident, team manager Tim Allnutt and board member Barry Gavin fought for the citing to be withdrawn.

"I think it's brilliant news, I think it's great for Paddy and for Connacht, but I think it's actually good for rugby," said Friend.

"I totally get that we need to protect the player, but we play a collision sport where accidents do happen. You can't have two big guys running into each other trying to hit each other with their heads, there is no future in that. But sometimes you get collisions when that just happens.

"If it was a stationary player and a man leads with his head into another man's head that's foul play, that should be cited.

"When you have two bulls running at each other and there is intent from a defender to stop him and intent from an attacker to punch a hole, it's a genuine accident that happens on a rugby field.

"I know Paddy was really remorseful and he spoke to Marcell after the game. He was disappointed people were thinking that it was a deliberate act because that's not Paddy McAllister.

"He's a hell of a man, a gentleman in his own right. He is not a foul player.

"He was gutted that people were thinking that that was deliberate. But there was a lot of work behind the scenes put in on his behalf."

Having McAllister available goes some way to easing Connacht's injury woes, and he will be part of the match-day squad if he completes his return to play protocols during the week. His fellow prop Finlay Bealham and centre Peter Robb are also going through the same HIA process.

There was some positive news for Connacht on the injury front with Niyi Adeolokum and Tom McCartney reintegrated to training this week along with lock Gavin Thornbury, who has been out since October with a dislocated elbow.

With Bundee Aki and Jack Carty on their mandatory IRFU two-week break, three players sidelined with HIAs and another 12 injured, Connacht were unable to play 15 versus 15 in training this week.

"We had 28 today but that was with four academy boys and two other fellas who we have got here training. We are skinny," said Friend.

"It's not ideal but when we travelled to South Africa we travelled with 26 players. Whenever we are under 30 I just say imagine we're in South Africa because we had two wins there against the Kings and Cheetahs.

"You can look at that and that can be a crutch, you can say we can't train 15 on 15 but you can also look at it and say 'Ah well, it is what it is and let's make the most of it'. We actually came off a really positive training session today."

Irish Independent

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