Belfast Telegraph

McAllister ready for Champions chance after his Coetzee rumble

In the clear: Paddy McAllister faces the media
In the clear: Paddy McAllister faces the media

By John Fallon

Connacht prop Paddy McAllister says that while he was convinced he did nothing wrong in the collision which saw Marcell Coetzee and him go off with head injuries during the recent defeat at Ulster, he feared the worst when he was cited and had to appear before a disciplinary hearing.

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It was the latest blow in his maiden season with Connacht having missed both Champions Cup games with former club Gloucester with a knee injury that has confined him to just five appearances so far for Andy Friend's men.

And then, just 24 minutes into his return to his native Ulster, he had to go off with the finger of blame, particularly in the TV commentary, pointing firmly in his direction.

"Going back to Ulster for the first time in seven years, it was an emotional occasion with a lot of family being there, friends there. A lot of people on the other side in the Ulster set-up which I knew and I was excited for the game," he said.

"Things didn't go too well for us in the first 20 minutes. Then you have got a guy like Marcell Coetzee who is running with the ball, outside of me was Conor Fitzgerald.

"I'm just trying to cover space and what happened, happened. It was completely accidental."

Coach Friend quickly jumped to his defence, and when McAllister was cleared after a hearing where Connacht's case was brought by head of rugby operations Tim Allnutt and club solicitor Barry Gavin, he said the decision was not just good for the player and Connacht but for rugby in general.

"I was going in there almost thinking where is the hangman-type situation. Full credit to Connacht, in terms of the effort they put in," he said.

"Their (panel's) conclusion was it was accidental."

Now the prop can look forward to the big Champions Cup clash at home to Toulouse on Saturday.

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