Good news for Scarlets skipper Rob McCusker
THE Scarlets head to Belfast today boosted by the availability of skipper Rob McCusker.
McCusker has escaped further punishment following his red card for stamping in the defeat to the Ospreys on Boxing Day and is free to play in tomorrow's top-of-the-table Pro12 clash against Ulster at Ravenhill.
However, centre Gareth Owen has been handed a three-week suspension for "tackling the jumper in mid-air" in the same match — an incident that saw Owen become the second Scarlet to be dismissed during the closing stages of the Liberty encounter. Both players went before a RaboDirect Pro12 hearing in Dublin yesterday.
A statement on McCusker's incident read: "Having considered the video evidence and heard submissions from the player and his representative, the committee determined the act to be at the lower end of the relevant scale of seriousness and held that in the particular circumstances of this case, no further sanction should apply."
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As for Owen, the panel adjudged the incident worthy of "mid-range entry point" and he will miss the Ulster clash as well as the final two rounds of the Heineken Cup pool stages, although the former Osprey wouldn't have been able to play in those matches anyway because he hasn't been registered in the Scarlets' European squad.
The McCusker verdict will come as a welcome boost to Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby as well as the region's captain, who was playing his first match since returning from an ankle injury sustained during Wales's autumn international series.
The Scarlets take on Ulster tomorrow looking to bounce back from a difficult December that saw them lose four out of their five matches in all competitions.