Leinster vow to fight stamping charge against prop McGrath
LEINSTER will contest the charges levelled against Jack McGrath when the Ireland prop faces a disciplinary panel later this week.
The 25-year-old was yesterday formally cited by commissioner Eugene Ryan of Munster for an alleged stamp on the ankle of his international front-row colleague Rory Best during Saturday's interprovincial win over Ulster.
He is likely to go before the panel tomorrow in either Wales or Scotland and his representatives are expected to ask why Ulster No 8 Roger Wilson was not cited for a similar offence on McGrath during the same game.
Both provinces will be asked to make submissions to the Independent Disciplinary committee along with the match officials as they assess whether McGrath fell foul of Law 10.4 (b) - 'A player must not stamp or trample on an opponent'.
"I think we were all taken by surprise a little bit with it," scrum coach Marco Caputo said of the citing yesterday. "We're confident that the judicial process will be what it is and Jack will be available (to face Cardiff) on Saturday. I don't want to say anything that might jeopardise his chances of a fair hearing.
"You're never confident until the final ruling comes through. I've been around the game long enough to know that if it looks grey, sounds grey and smells grey, it's not grey until someone tells you it's grey."
Asked if he was surprised Wilson was not being called to account for his own actions, Caputo said Leinster were simply looking for consistency.
"Yeah, that's one of the things that you'd like to think comes into account, consistency and that the same rule is applied in the same way by the citing commissioner," he said.
While McGrath's participation remains in doubt, Leinster should be able to welcome Rob Kearney, Marty Moore, Shane Jennings, Eoin Reddan and Dominic Ryan back to their team for the trip to Cardiff Blues on Saturday.
Jamie Heaslip, meanwhile, is unlikely to feature as he manages the AC joint injury he sustained against Ulster, but it is not thought to be serious.
"If we were playing a final at the weekend, Jamie would be available to play," Caputo said. "We have a pretty critical three or four games coming up at the moment. We have an appointment with Cardiff away and then the two European matches. If we win those two games then we are sitting pretty for a quarter-final game.
"If we needed Jamie to play we could do that. What gives us a little comfort is that we have someone like Jack Conan who is playing the house down and probably deserves to maintain his spot in the team.
"Whether we need to expose Jamie to that further risk is something that we need to balance; we would probably be more cautious with Jamie than try and push him through."
Heaslip famously rarely gets injured and Caputo admitted that there was mixed emotions seeing the captain fail to shake the knock off and have to be replaced.
"When he went down first everyone was expecting him to shake it off and get up and carry on as he does," he explained.
"I've been told this is the first time he has been forced off the field since 2010. Last year he didn't miss a training session, let alone a match.
"He obviously has amazing therapeutic/medicinal healing prowess and we are hoping that is comes through on this occasion.
"Halfway through this season, with a long way to go, we would like to ... be more cautious than expose him to further risk if there is an element of that. If we playing a European Cup final tomorrow, then he'd probably play.
"At this stage we think we have adequate cover with Jack Conan to take on that load and hopefully get Jamie back for those big European Cup games."
Leinster will train on UCD's 3G pitch this week in order to acclimatise to conditions for the Arms Park where the Blues play on an artificial surface. Leinster will be hoping that Saturday's second-half display against Ulster sets the tone for 2015 as they welcome a few more injured players back with more to follow.
"At certain stages of the year, the best we've been able to do has been to send out a patched-up team. Now, we've got significant players coming back with serious credentials and it's nice to have that depth," Caputo concluded.
"There are another couple of guys who aren't too far away either: Cian Healy and Sean O'Brien are two or three weeks away.
"If we can get through these next two or three crucial matches, it sets us up for a nice run home. The quality of those players will be a handful for anyone."