McAllister was convinced he’d done nothing wrong

McAllister was convinced he’d done nothing wrong
Paddy McAllister. Photo Credit: ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo.

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

It was the latest blow in his maiden season with Connacht having missed both Heineken 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, where he had come through the academy and made his senior debut, he has to go off with the finger of blame, particularly in the television 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 being there. A lot of people on the other side in the Ulster set-up which I knew and I was excited for the game.

“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 out of me was Conor Fitzgerald.

I am just trying to cover space and what happened happened. It was completely accidental. It was, in my mind, fault on both sides. But at the same time there has to be protecting both sides of the tackle.

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 think it is a good decision too because it was my first time in a hearing process but going in there looking at the pictures and seeing everything I am reading on social media about myself and the actions that I supposedly did on purpose. 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 on Sunday, Tim Allnutt and Barry Gavin. They put in a massive effort within the club.

“We prepared and were able to sit down with a panel of lawyers who were very objective. And we talked them through, phase by phase, the scenario of what happened. Their conclusion was it was accidental.

“In fact it took them six minutes to make their mind up. There wasn’t a long deliberation or anything. They took six minutes and then said it was accidental. Asked if we wanted to appeal that and we kindly said no, and wished them a happy new year. That was it.”

Now the prop is looking forward to chalking down some serious game time with Connacht, starting in their do-or-die clash with Toulouse at the Sportsground on Saturday.

I was gutted to miss the Gloucester games. It is exciting. It is what Champions Cup rugby is all about. You play against some of the best in the world.

"You have got All Blacks who have won World Cups. You have French internationals, Cheslin Kolbe who was probably the star of the show in the World Cup. It is exciting for everybody.

“I am sure it is exciting for the whole community to have these giants of rugby come to Galway. We have trained hard and everyone is looking forward to putting them wrongs right and I think those wrongs will be put right by a lot of effort and a lot of accuracy,” added McAllister.

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