IRELAND will definitely be without stand-off Jonathan Sexton and lock Mike McCarthy for the RBS Six Nations game against Scotland at Murrayfield next weekend but have sparked fresh controversy by threatening to play banned prop Cian Healy for Leinster this weekend.
Ireland have lost winger Simon Zebo, Sexton, McCarthy and Healy in the wake of the loss to England in Dublin on Sunday, but team manager Mick Kearney reported better news on a handful of other injury concerns.
“Brian [O’Driscoll] had a recurrence of the soft tissue injury in his good ankle,” he said, “but scans revealed no structural damage. Donnacha Ryan suffered a lower back muscle strain. Scans have excluded structural damage but he’s quite sore and won’t train this week. He’ll be reassessed at the weekend and at this stage he has a good chance of being available against Scotland.
“Sean O’Brien has recovered well from his stiff neck and tight hamstring and will train tomorrow and Rob [Kearney] is fine. He had a slight dead leg but trained. ”
The injury news was overshadowed, however, by the Irish seeking to exploit a loophole in prop Healy’s three-week suspension for dangerously stamping on England prop Dan Cole’s ankle.
The independent Six Nations disciplinary committee banned Healy for three weeks but, bizarrely, deferred the suspension by a week, citing the fact that leading internationalists do not play for their clubs or provinces in the off-week. So the ban starts officially at midnight on Sunday and ends on 10 March, meaning Healy misses the games against Scotland and France.
Leinster responded by stating that they would play Healy in tomorrow’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Treviso before the ban comes into force, which the Six Nations insist they cannot do. Ireland coach Declan Kidney is considering appealing the suspension, but cannot do so until he receives the written judgement on Monday.
Leinster insisted they believe Healy is clear to play and plan to test the loophole by starting him.