Leinster are considering whether to select banned Ireland prop Cian Healy on Saturday when they face Benetton Treviso in the RaboDirect PRO12, despite incurring the wrath of RBS Six Nations organisers.
Healy was suspended after he was found guilty of stamping on England prop Dan Cole, with a disciplinary committee handing the forward a three-week ban. Usually Healy would not have played this weekend, but the committee’s decision to defer the ban by a week so that he would miss Ireland’s games against Scotland and France means the suspension does not start until midnight on Sunday.
Leinster forwards coach Jonno Gibbes has suggested that the reigning European champions intend to select the 25-year-old for the game in Dublin.
“Cian is certainly available,” said Gibbes. “Joe Schmidt and (Ireland head coach) Declan Kidney have talked about the involvement of Test players this weekend. Cian’s available and personally I’d be delighted to involve him, he’s a really big asset. He will definitely be considered.”
The announcement has created a problem for Six Nations officials, who are understood to be concerned at the prospect of having the spirit of their ban flouted by the exploitation of a loophole in their decision to defer the punishment.
However, Gibbes didn’t seem too concerned with the ban as it doesn’t directly affect the province. “There are complications for others maybe, but he’s available for us,” Gibbes continued. “It’s a game in the break of the Six Nations and he’s under consideration. Nothing is surprising when the rugby judiciary is involved. You have to go in with an open mind because you never know what will come out of it.”
Meanwhile, Ireland team manager Mick Kearney has confirmed that fly-half Jonathan Sexton and second-row Mike McCarthy have been ruled out of their next match against Scotland due to injury. Munster duo Ronan O'Gara and Donncha O'Callaghan are likely to deputise for the game at Murrayfield.