Ireland still pondering appeal of Sean O’Brien’s one-game ban

Ireland are still weighing up whether to appeal Sean O’Brien’s one-match ban ahead of this Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against Argentina.

O’Brien received the suspension on Tuesday night after seven-hour hearing in London, having been indicted for striking France’s Pascal Pape in the opening minute of last Sunday’s game at the Millennium Stadium.

The Ireland management yesterday received the written explanation of the verdict delivered by independent judicial officer Terry Willis of Australia, who had reduced the ban from two weeks to one after considering factors such as contrition and previous good behaviour. They have 48 hours in which to launch an appeal, having to decide whether such a course of action risks O’Brien incurring a heavier punishment.

Team manager Mick Kearney, in an audio statement released yesterday, described the hearing as a fair and thorough process before adding: “We received the written report on the hearing earlier today, we’re reflecting on that and we’ll have a further update [Friday].”

Coach Joe Schmidt is due to announce his team to face Argentina at 1.30pm in Cardiff today, and both Keith Earls and Johnny Sexton are expected to take a full part in training beforehand.

Earls had sat out training on Wednesday, an absence explained as “load management” having played in all four pool games while out-half Sexton is recovering from an adductor strain in his kicking leg suffered against France.

Definitely not playing is captain Paul O’Connell but the management are optimistic the now retired veteran lock will rejoin the squad having undergone surgery on the hamstring tear that ended his 108-cap Test career.

“Paul came back into camp on Monday and spent the first couple of days in camp, he was contributing at the meetings,” Kearney said. “He left this morning for London and we’re hopeful that Paul will rejoin us either tomorrow evening or on Saturday.”

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