British and Irish Lions 2013: Cian Healy speaks of relief after being cleared of biting - but he'll be returning home anyway
Injury rules the Ireland prop out of the rest of the tour, with Scotland's Ryan Grant called up as his replacement
Cian Healy today spoke of his relief at being cleared of biting an opponent during the Lions' opening tour match in Australia, yet the Irish prop will be returning home anyway.
Healy had been accused of biting Western Force scrum-half Brett Sheehan on the arm and attended a two-and-half hour disciplinary hearing this morning where judicial officer Nigel Hampton QC found insufficient evidence to support the allegation.
While Healy, 25, has avoided a lengthy ban, his problems are far from over.
The Dubliner suffered ankle ligament damage shortly before half-time during Wednesday's 69-17 victory in Perth and he has now been ruled out of the rest of the tour.
Scottish prop Ryan Grant has been called into the squad as his replacement.
Discussing being cleared of biting, Healey said: "I am very relieved. Naturally, I was very disappointed that there was a citing in the first place.
"I always maintained that nothing happened and that I had done nothing illegal. The opposition player's arm hit me. It was as simple as that. The support I've had from the management and all the lads has been wonderful. I'm glad it's all over."
Andy Irvine, the tourists' manager, described the verdict as "important for the integrity of the entire squad".
On Healy's injury, head coach Warren Gatland said: "Firstly, our thoughts are with Cian.
"It has been a day of mixed emotions for him after being quite rightly being cleared of foul play but then the scan revealing the extent of the damage to his ankle. He has made a big contribution on and off the field in the last two weeks and we wish him well in his recovery."
Gatland's side continue their preparations for Australia tomorrow with a match against Queensland Reds, who have twice beaten the Lions on previous tours. It is likely to be the toughest fixture of the trip outside the Test series.
They will have to play them without Welsh prop Gethin Jenkins who has been ruled out due to a calf injury. Mako Vunipola will replace Jenkins in the Lions line-up.
Rob Howley, the Lions attack coach, said his players have been warned of the threat posed by the brilliant outside-half Quade Cooper, who has one last chance of breaking back into Australia's international squad following a major falling-out with the management last year.
"Cooper has a point to prove," Howley said. "He's very intuitive, he has the ability to take the ball to the line and create opportunities for others around him. From Queensland's perspective, you want a player like him with the ball in his hands as much as possible. From our point of view, it's important that we don't give him time. He can have a huge influence on a game."
Sam Warburton will make his Lions debut tomorrow but insists his status as captain is no guarantee of a starting place when the tourists face Australia in the First Test here on June 22.
"The back-row was always going to be one of the strongest positions," said Welshman Warburton. "I first thought, 'Flipping heck, that's strong, look who is not there - Chris Robshaw, Stephen Ferris, if fit, Kelly Brown'. So it was always going to be a tough ask to play for the Lions in the back-row.
"I have to fight as hard as anyone. I was honest with Warren [Gatland] and said what I don't like about captaincy is you don't want to become complacent.
"You want to go to bed the night before wondering if you are going to play. Those feelings are what drive you to be a better player. I would never be complacent. I would never think the Test spot is assured."
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