Ireland's Iain Henderson cleared to face Italy in Six Nations

Iain Henderson is free to play for Ireland this weekend against Italy
Nick Purewal

IAIN Henderson is free to return to Ireland colours against Italy on Sunday after a PRO14 disciplinary committee ruled the Ulsterman should not have been sent off against Ospreys last week.

Henderson was cited after the match in Wales for dangerous play, despite the referee and TMO both deciding the incident in which he cleared Sam Cross from a ruck only merited a penalty.

Yesterday's hearing ruled that Henderson, who gave evidence via videolink, had committed an act of foul play but that it only merited a yellow card, leaving him clear to face the Italians.

The match saw Henderson (right) return to action after a finger injury which ruled him out of Ireland's opening two Six Nations matches.

The lock played all 80 minutes in Ulster's 8-0 win.

However, Garry Ringrose will miss the trip to Rome, having failed to beat his hamstring complaint.

Ireland must do without the Leinster centre for Sunday's Stadio Olimpico trip, though that loss is eased by Chris Farrell being passed fit after a knee-injury scare.

Farrell impressed in Ireland's 22-13 victory in Scotland on Saturday, February 9, but limped out of Munster's PRO14 clash against Southern Kings on Friday night.

As well as Henderson, Tadhg Beirne has returned to Ireland's squad to bolster boss Joe Schmidt's options at lock, though Rhys Ruddock misses out through hamstring trouble and Will Addison is sidelined with a minor back complaint.

“Garry Ringrose and Rhys Ruddock will continue their respective hamstring rehab at Leinster this week,” the IRFU confirmed in a statement.

“Chris Farrell has been reviewed by the Ireland medical team and is fit to train today.

“Will Addison has some lower back stiffness that is being managed at Ulster this week.

“Iain Henderson and Tadhg Beirne, who were named in the initial Six Nations squad, have joined the group at Carton House this week.”

Classy Leinster centre Ringrose missed Ireland's Edinburgh victory with a hamstring issue that Ireland had expected would not need much further recovery.

Head coach Schmidt's decision to send Ringrose back to Leinster this week could therefore perhaps be risk-averse, with Ireland yet to face France and Wales in the tournament.

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