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British & Irish Lions
Cian Healy ruled out of tour with ankle injury
Tom Hamilton in Brisbane
June 7, 2013
Healy ruled out of the tour.

Comment

  • The British & Irish Lions tour has claimed its first casualty and the news will come as a huge blow to Warren Gatland and the rest of his coaching staff. Ireland loose-head Cian Healy was one of the premier candidates to start in the first Test against the Wallabies but Gatland will now have to look elsewhere.
  • With Gethin Jenkins' troublesome calf still playing up, Mako Vunipola now has a chance to tie down that loose-head berth. He has been one of the Lions' top performers so far and he injected a new found urgency in their front-row when he came off the bench against the Western Force on Wednesday.
  • And they have ready-made reinforcements on their way to Australia from Argentina and South Africa. England's Alex Corbisiero has barely played any rugby this season but Lions coach Graham Rowntree rates him highly while the consistent Ryan Grant will get his chance with many deeming him unlucky to have missed out on section in the original squad. One thing this has taught everyone, if they did not realise already, there is nothing certain about a Lions tour.
  • Tom Hamilton

Ireland prop Cian Healy's British & Irish Lions tour is over after scans revealed he has suffered "extensive ligament damage" to his ankle.

Healy started against the Western Force on Wednesday but sustained the injury three minutes before half-time. The game was delayed while Healy received treatment and while the coaching staff confirmed after the match that the prop had not broken a bone in his ankle, they were reluctant to announce whether he was set to face a prolonged spell on the sidelines.

It has been a hugely eventful day for Healy who was cleared of biting Brett Sheehan earlier on Thursday. But while he was handed that boost, he will be returning to Ireland with England prop Alex Corbisiero expected to land in Brisbane at lunchtime on Saturday, eastern Australian time.

And the Lions are also sweating on fellow loose-head Gethin Jenkins' fitness as the prop is struggling with a calf injury. Mako Vunipola will now start against the Reds with Dan Cole coming on to the bench. With Jenkins out, the Lions have drafted in Ryan Grant, who was in South Africa with the Scotland side, as cover.

"Firstly, our thoughts are with Cian," Lions coach Warren Gatland said. "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.

"Gethin has trained all week but he felt some tightness in his calf today so it's right not to play him. We will assess him over the next 24-48 hours but Mako has done well in the last two games and this is another chance for him to step up. Given Cian's injury we have decided to bring Ryan in. He has played well in the RaboDirect Pro 12 this season and for Scotland in the Six Nations and we look forward to him and Alex Corbisiero arriving tomorrow."

Reflecting on his call-up, Grant told scottishrugby.org: "This time last year I got my first cap. Now I'm heading out to Australia to represent Scotland for the Lions. What can you say? It's been so fast I've not really had time to process it. It's the top of the game. To call myself a Lion is the greatest honour."

Scotland head coach, Scott Johnson, said: "We are absolutely stoked for Ryan. To get another Scottish player, who we feel possesses the talent and resolve the play at the highest level - and playing for the Lions is the highest level - is great. People out there may be in for a pleasant surprise as to what a player he is."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.

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