Joe Schmidt surprised as Paul O'Connell avoids kick citing

Leinster coach and Ireland job contender Joe Schmidt has said he is surprised that Paul O'Connell avoided a citing following Saturday's Pro12 game between Munster and Leinster.

While attempting a fly-hack upfield, O'Connell also connected with Dave Kearney's head which led to the Leinster wing being concussed.

"That it didn't constitute a red card?" said Schmidt.

"I think we're getting into dangerous territory when that's our baseline."

Citing commissioner Eddie Walsh decided O'Connell, 33, did not kick Kearney in the head during Leinster's Pro12 win at Thomond Park.

Walsh concluded O'Connell's shin hit the prostrate Kearney on the head, while his foot connected with the ball.

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In 12 years of professional coaching, I don't think I've ever seen a contact like that

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt

The commissioner's view was that there was no intention by O'Connell, who has 85 Ireland and six Lions caps, to kick the grounded player and that the 2009 Lions captain accidentally made contact with the head of his opponent.

Any potential sanction handed out to O'Connell would have had serious implications for Munster's Heineken Cup semi-final against Clermont on 27 April and his chances of earning selection for the Lions tour to Australia this summer.

Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Schmidt added:""I think it was more of a case that Dave Kearney's head had every right to be where it was.

"He was the player in possession of the ball. He was totally lucid at the time and his head was stable, and he placed the ball beside it. He had every right to be where he was."

The Leinster coach emphasised his respect for O'Connell.

"All of us understand the quality of Paul O'Connell. I think he's a superb player. I think he's a top-quality bloke.

"It's impossible for us to rule on intent. What we can see is an action that has had 90,000 hits on YouTube. That mothers of kids that we want to play the game are watching.

"And effectively what the citing commissioner has deemed that what happened is acceptable on a rugby field.

"Post-game: that's not my domain. It was left to Eddie Walsh, the citing commissioner, to determine whether or not it was a citing offence.

"In 12 years of professional coaching, I don't think I've ever seen a contact like that."

O'Connell missed a large part of the season, including Ireland's Six Nations campaign, because of a back injury that eventually required surgery.

But he returned to action ahead of schedule and his good form, including a storming performance in Munster's upset Heineken Cup win over Harlequins 10 days ago, has led to speculation that a strong end to the season could see the 6ft 6in Munster second row make the plane for the tour of Australia this summer.