Thursday 22 March 2018

Injured Healy cited for biting and facing Lions exit

Cian Healy is treated on the pitch after sustaining an injury during the game
Cian Healy is treated on the pitch after sustaining an injury during the game

Patrick Johnston

WITH a suspected ankle injury and a possible suspension for allegedly biting an opponent, the prospects of prop Cian Healy continuing on the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia look bleak.

The Irish loosehead was accused of biting scrumhalf Brett Sheehan in the first half of the Lions' 69-17 victory over the Western Force in Perth on Wednesday before he screamed in agony after his left leg was twisted when tackled in the 35th minute.

The Australian Rugby Union has confirmed this evening that the Leinster star has been cited for biting and will appear before a hearing tomorrow.

Healy was taken off on a stretcher after receiving treatment on the field for several minutes, his hands clasped over his face as he exited the field at the Subiaco Oval.

"It's not broken but they think its ligament damage so we will have to wait 24, 48 hours and see what happens from that," Lions coach Warren Gatland told reporters after their first match in Australia on the tour.

"He went for an X-ray and it wasn't broken, that's all I know at this stage, so just assume its ligament damage.

"He may need to have a scan to further delve into the potential of the injury."

Gatland said that discussion would take place about a replacement for the 25-year-old Irish international later on Wednesday once they received confirmation about the diagnosis.

"Potentially we will talk about someone tonight who we may bring out to cover once we have found what condition Cian is in and we have had a chat with him," the Kiwi coach said.

"Until we have done that, it will probably be this evening, if it is a bit more serious then we will have to quickly look at getting a replacement out here."

Gatland said Welsh loosehead prop Gethin Jenkins would start for the Lions on Saturday against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane, with England's Matt Steven another who could play.

Mako Vunipola came off the bench to replace Healy on Wednesday and the New Zealand-born Englishman crossed for a second half try in an impressive display in the rout.

But while Healy contemplates the end of his Lions tour through injury he could also face a suspension for biting.

The match was stopped for several minutes while the television match official looked for any foul play after Sheehan complained but no foul play was spotted allowing Healy to continue.

"Don't know if it was an accident or on purpose but unfortunately he's injured now so we'll see," Sheehan told Fox TV in pitchside interview at halftime.

Sheehan did not speak to the media after the match as he was giving a statement to the citing officer and neither Gatland or Force coach Michael Foley were able to shed any light on the incident.

"Think the citing guys have had a look at it but didn't see anything," Gatland said with Foley adding he thought the issue had been dealt with by the referee and left on the field.

Healy missed one game of the Six Nations earlier this year when he was found guilty of stamping on England's Dan Cole, who packed down with him in the scrum against the Force on Wednesday.

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