Monday 17 December 2018

Kearney: we had no part in citing decisions

Ireland manager rejects accusations of 'whinging'

New Zealand's Malakai Fekitoa receives a yellow card from referee Jaco Peyper during the Autumn International against Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Saturday
New Zealand's Malakai Fekitoa receives a yellow card from referee Jaco Peyper during the Autumn International against Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Saturday

It was a case of 'good cop, bad cop' out in Carton House when it came to the fallout from 'Avivagate.'

Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip played the solemn part of the understanding player's player.

"It is intense. That's international rugby lads," he relayed.

"A lot of games people get banged up, dead legs, tears, shoulder, knee, ankle.

"It's a contact sport. People get hurt," he said.

There was no sense of recrimination from the Irish vice-captain.

"I'm not going to hide the fact that it is a physical sport. You are running into someone," he continued.

"Physics dictates there is going to be impact, going to be force and sometimes lads get banged up."

The Naas man was more interested in looking straight ahead.

"For us really, there's no point looking back. The game is over. They won. We got Australia now."


Team Manager Mick Kearney, a gentleman if ever there was one, was miscast in the role of the enforcer.

The Citing Officer, Bruce Kuklinski, from the Ireland-New Zealand international was a busy man on Sunday.

The Canadian decided to review twelve incidents with eleven of them concerned with the actions of men in black.

Mick Kearney went out of his way to explain the process.

"What normally happens is I get introduced to the Citing Officer before the game and we are given the opportunity to speak to him post-game," he said.

"But, we feel it is best left up to the Citing Officer and his officials to look through the game and to cite where he wants, so we actually don't cite.

"The Citing Officer would come to me through his office post the game and he said there was 12 things he wanted to look at and only one related to Ireland."

This sounds like a stark indictment of the strategy used by New Zealand, flying in the face of accusations of whingeing from some quarters.

"I don't think we are wingeing at all," responded Kearney, on what was his last official appearance before retiring from his post.

"I think the facts speak for themselves. We don't cite anybody.

"We don't make complaints to the Citing Officer because, at the end of the day, they have the angles to look at the game.

"The citing officer has the angles to look at it forensically.

"As I said, he actually picked out 12 different incidents of which 11 involved NZ and one involved Ireland which we were subsequently cleared of."

The most relevant immediate facts for Ireland are that out-half Jonathan Sexton (hamstring) and inside centre Robbie Henshaw (concussion) have been ruled for Australia.

Full-back Rob Kearney and flanker CJ Stander will follow back-to-play protocols this week.

The way Schmidt operates means they are both highly unlikely to be involved because he commits to training with those selected unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Wing Simon Zebo was removed with cramp and has been set a return-to-practice deadline for Thursday, at the latest.

The coach has called in centres Stuart Olding and Rory Scannell to make up for the loss of Henshaw, entertaining the possible rebirth of the Paddy Jackson-Olding ten-twelve axis.

It also hints at the unavailability of Kearney with Jared Payne available to slot in at full-back.

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