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

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent