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Ireland frustrated with officials as they count injury cost of New Zealand loss

Published 21/11/2016

Robbie Henshaw was injured against New Zealand
Robbie Henshaw was injured against New Zealand

Robbie Henshaw will miss Ireland's final autumn Test against Australia after suffering concussion during Saturday's encounter with New Zealand, with Irish bosses branding the disciplinary fall-out from the Dublin clash "disappointing".

Ireland team manager Mick Kearney confirmed the citing officer raised 12 incidents - 11 relating to New Zealand - from Saturday's gruelling Test, where the All Blacks prevailed 21-9.

New Zealand flanker Sam Cane faces a disciplinary hearing for his hit that left Henshaw concussed, for which referee Jaco Peyper only awarded a penalty.

All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa also faces a disciplinary hearing over his high tackle on Simon Zebo, for which he received just a yellow card.

World Rugby issued warnings before the November Tests of a clampdown on dangerous tackles: any ban for Cane or Fekitoa now would leave question marks on Saturday's officiating standards.

"The evidence is fairly clear that Robbie took a shoulder to the jaw, which knocked him unconscious before he hit the ground," Kearney said.

"He came in (on Monday) morning to see the doctor and has since gone home.

"The citing officer picked out 12 incidents during the game; 11 of them referred to New Zealand.

"The one that referred to us was a clean-out of Sam Cane at a ruck and we were cleared of any foul play in that incident.

"It is disappointing, to be honest. There were a number of tackles and bangs around the head.

"We received the edict from World Rugby in the last week or 10 days and Joe (Schmidt, Ireland head coach) would have sat the squad down, and shown them the various footage, including examples of tackles around the head and neck area.

"World Rugby had said if these incidents occur then you are liable to a red card, possibly. So that obviously didn't happen at the weekend."

The game's governing body World Rugby would certainly suffer some embarrassment if one or both All Black stars faces a retrospective suspension, carrying with it the acceptance that red cards should have been issued on the night.

Feikota claimed two tries, including the decisive score, in Dublin.

If he is now found guilty of an "alleged dangerous tackle" at his disciplinary hearing he could face a suspension. Cane lies in the same situation for his challenge on Henshaw.

"The facts speak for themselves," Kearney added. "We don't cite anybody. We don't make complaints to the citing officer because they have the angles to look at the game."

Henshaw heads Ireland's lengthy injury list, with fly-half Johnny Sexton also ruled out of Saturday's Australia clash while several others are doubts.

CJ Stander and Rob Kearney must both undergo the HIA process and return-to-play protocols after showing signs of concussion.

Zebo suffered from cramp but is expected to return to train later this week, as are Peter O'Mahony, Keith Earls and Ultan Dillane.

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