Friday 15 December 2017

Stander farce shows up game's disciplinary flaws

The player had to go through 11 hours of a hearing with disciplinary officer Terry Willis. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
The player had to go through 11 hours of a hearing with disciplinary officer Terry Willis. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

News of CJ Stander's one-week ban reached the Ireland management at around 8.00pm on Monday night, more than 48 hours after the full-time whistle had sounded at Newlands.

The player had to go through 11 hours of a hearing with disciplinary officer Terry Willis, who then took another few hours to make his final decision to suspend the back-row for two weeks, reduced to one as a result of his previous good record.

Ireland have 48 hours to appeal, but last night they still hadn't received the written decision from SANZAR, the southern hemisphere body who are administering the disciplinary process at the three-Test series.

So, they trained in Sandton yesterday on the proviso that they will be without the Munster star (right)for Saturday's second Test and have given up on the idea of appealing.

Whatever about the rights and wrong of Stander's actions - and the Irish management team are convinced he's been hard done by - for the process to take so long when there is another game looming large this Saturday is questionable.

"We're in a situation where we're half-way through the training week already," Ireland skills and kicking coach Richie Murphy said. "CJ obviously hasn't been training with the team so it's a situation where it's probably a little bit too late already.

"We're disappointed in the verdict. It's one of those things where a player's got injured on the pitch and we're disappointed for that as well, that was never the intention from CJ.

"The process that he's gone through over the last three days has just taken forever. It's been very slow. So, that's something that's probably gone against CJ."

Stander's absence means that there will be at least one change for the second Test at Ellis Park.

Murphy name-checked Rhys Ruddock at yesterday's news conference with the local media, but he later conceded that a straight swap was not the only option available. Schmidt may choose to move Iain Henderson into the back-row and start Donnacha Ryan or Ultan Dillane in the engine-room, but he could be reluctant to break up the partnership of Henderson and Devin Toner.

Stander aside, the squad is all available for selection and the coaches must make a decision on whether to freshen up the team or stick with those who delivered victory in Cape Town.

"There is a bit of a discussion," Murphy said.

"We're having a look at the best way to go about this is. CJ may or may not have played this week but it would have been great to have him as an option.

"Everyone is fit and healthy, guys have been through long hard seasons, so we have to take those things into account in selection.

"It's not a case of cutting anyone. We've come here as a squad to try and win three games. Guys have had long seasons and picked up bumps, decisions have to be made whether a fresh guys could add something."

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