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Thursday 14 December 2017

Horgan: Our top jocks need cover

Triggs to miss Castres due to three-week ban

Munster and Ireland’s Conor Murray. Photo: Sportsfile
Munster and Ireland’s Conor Murray. Photo: Sportsfile

The quarter-back is a protected species in the ruthless environment of the National Football League in the United States.

If you are going to wipe-out Tom Brady from the New England Patriots or Aaron Rogers from the Green Bay Packers, you better make sure it is within the rules of the game.

Former Ireland international Shane Horgan has called on the guardians of the game to crack down on the illegal targeting of "marquee players" in rugby.

The recent examples of Montpellier's Frans Steyn's red-card for a swinging forearm into Jonathan Sexton and the special attention Glasgow paid to Conor Murray's lower legs and ankles have crossed the line between what is acceptable and what is not.

"These are the players that have to be protected," said Horgan, on the Second Captains podcast.

"You saw it with Sexton. There is no doubt he was having such an influence on the game at that point.

"The hit by Steyn was late and high and obvious."

The next evening, Ireland's other half-back was the victim of more than one cynical action as Glasgow had him in their sights.

"Murray was targeted, not just in a natural physical way. Some of the stuff that was being done was illegal."

Essentially, Murray and Sexton are the two most important players for their respective provinces and, by extension, for their country.

"These two guys are complete players. They have a big influence on both their teams.

"They are marquee players for the sport," said Horgan.

"We can't afford to have these guys getting big knee injuries, getting blown out by the sort of tackling that we saw late on Murray or the type of head-high collisions we saw on Sexton."

This is where World Rugby can step-in to open the eyes of their referees to the special treatment dished out to players of extraordinary impact on the game.

"I think there has to be one eye to players being targeted in these key positions," said Horgan.

"I'm not just talking about from an Irish perspective. I am talking about right throughout Europe.

"If we want to develop the sort of game that sells, and is interesting, and holds peoples' attention and encourages parents to allow their kids play, we need these guys protected."

In the meantime, Leinster have the considerable matter of handling the manic home mentality of Castres Olympique at Stade Pierre Antoine tomorrow night.

They will have to do so without Hayden Triggs.

The second row is out of Leinster's Champions Cup clash on foot of being found guilty of making contact with the eye area of Montpellier's Nic White.

The second row has been suspended for three weeks following the hearing in Paris yesterday.

Contrary to original reports, the Low-End entry for the offence is four weeks as the charge was specifically for contact with the eye area, and not for contact with the eye(s), which carries a different set of sanction entry point tariffs.

The independent Disciplinary Committee consisting of Antony Davies (England), Chairman, Julien Berenger (France) and Pamela Woodman (Scotland) handed down a four-week ban.

Taking into account Triggs' guilty plea and his expression of remorse, the Committee reduced the sanction by one week before imposing a three-week suspension.

The player can reserve the right of appeal.

The alternatives for Triggs are headed by Ross Molony on the basis of last week when the was the reserve lock.

For Castres, coach Leo Cullen will be tempted to go with the experience of Ireland international Mike McCarthy.

There are also the claims of Ian Nagle and Mick Kearney.

At present, Leinster hold the number one seed going into the last round of games.

Should they fail to come away from France with a win, there is the prospect of falling out of the Top-4 and into an away quarter-final.

Leinster have the considerable matter of

handling the manic home mentality of Castres.

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