British and Irish Lions 2013: Cian Healy could be sent home in shame over biting claim

Lions prop faces disciplinary hearing after being cited for offence but must also have scan on ankle injury

Perth

Cian Healy, the British and Irish Lions prop forward widely predicted to mount a fierce challenge for a Test place against the Wallabies in a little over a fortnight's time, saw his hopes and dreams reduced to rubble on two fronts after a soul-destroying spell of rugby against the Australian Super 15 team Western Force.

Healy left the field on a stretcher after suffering a nasty ankle injury, and was then cited for an alleged biting offence. The 25-year-old loose-head specialist from Dublin faces a disciplinary hearing in Brisbane after today's long flight from one side of the country to the other.

Tomorrow, he will have a hospital scan to determine the extent of ligament damage caused when he fell awkwardly in a tackle by the flanker Angus Cottrell. If the hearing goes against him, his tour will be over before the medical results are received.

Even if he is acquitted of the biting charge laid against him by the South African citing commissioner Freek Burger, there is every possibility that he will find himself on an early flight home. Healy's face was a study in agony as he fell to the floor in Cottrell's tackle and the Lions medics were quick to summon reinforcements so the 17st 9lb front-rower could be carried off.

Lions officials were so downbeat about the Irishman's prospects of continuing the tour that they immediately sent word to Argentina to summon the England prop Alex Corbisiero as a replacement. Corbisiero has only just returned from long-term injury, but is highly regarded by Warren Gatland, the head coach of the tour party.

Expected to play for his country against Argentina at altitude in Salta this weekend, the highly skilled Northampton-bound forward now has an opportunity to reach even greater heights.

"We need to get Alex over here as quickly as possible," said Gatland, who wants Corbisiero to join up with the squad before their departure from Brisbane on Sunday and then challenge the experienced Wales prop Gethin Jenkins and the fast-developing England loosehead Mako Vunipola for a Test role.

For his part the England coach, Stuart Lancaster, was in characteristically generous spirits after being told he was losing his most able prop just ahead of the meeting with the Pumas – a team renowned for their front-row expertise. "We're delighted for him," said Lancaster, who is hardly the first man in his position to lose an important player to the Lions. "He goes with our blessing."

Healy is accused of assaulting the Force scrum-half Brett Sheehan, a spiky character who had raised the temperature of the build-up to the fixture by expressing his desire for an "extremely physical game", in the 17th minute of a one-sided contest in which the Lions scored nine tries in their 69-17 victory.

The match was stopped by Glen Jackson, the New Zealand referee, when Sheehan complained of being bitten at a ruck. Jackson consulted the television official, Glenn Newman, but the immediate investigation yielded nothing in the way of hard evidence and no action was taken.

Afterwards, the Western Force hierarchy showed no interest in pursuing the matter. "It's been left on the field and we don't need to talk about it any more," said Michael Foley, the head coach. But Sheehan was asked for a statement by the citing officer, who made his decision some four hours later.

Max Duthie, a lawyer who is travelling with the Lions, was preparing to represent Healy, who will face a minimum ban of three months if found guilty of the offence.

One difficulty with any mitigation plea is the three-week suspension that Healy picked up for stamping on Dan Cole, the England prop and his front-row colleague in the game, during the Six Nations match in Ireland in February.

Meanwhile, the Lions staff were waiting to hear if a second player, the Munster scrum-half Conor Murray, would be cited. Murray was being investigated for a possible stamp on the Western Force centre Ed Stubbs, who, ironically enough, was sent to the sin bin for ball-killing in the same incident.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen