Hooper gets slap on wrist

Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper has been suspended for just one week after being found guilty of foul play and will be available for his side's next match.

Hooper was cited for striking Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez during a second-half incident in last weekend’s Rugby Championship match in Mendoza.

The Sanzar judicial hearing was heard by Nigel Hampton, who handed down a one-week suspension, although it won’t see Hooper miss any Test action as there are no Rugby Championship fixtures this weekend.

‘The Rugby Championship schedule is such that Australia's next match is in two weeks' time on 8 August,’ Hampton said in a statement. ‘However, due to Hooper's limited playing time in the match in which he was cited, evidence was submitted and confirmed in the hearing that Hooper and other players who needed game time would be made available and scheduled to play on the weekend of 1 August.

‘The Sydney club competition has qualifying finals this weekend, with Hooper's club Manly to play Randwick on 1 August. I was officially advised in written form by all parties that if Hooper was available, he would play in this match.’

Hampton said he had found Hooper guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, having rejected submissions that the action was a 'push with an open hand' and not a punch.

‘It was found that Hooper, in circumstances of considerable frustration and in order to try and rid himself of his opponent, drew back his free right arm and, voluntarily using additional momentum over and above that given to him by the actions of his opponent, struck out at the opponent’s head and neck area with his open hand, making contact with the back of the opponent’s neck and head with considerable, and intentional, force.

‘After taking all relevant facts into consideration, I found that the striking offence was committed. I found the incident to have a lower-end entry point, which stipulates a two-week suspension. I found no aggravating factors to be present but did find a number of mitigating factors including Hooper's good character and repute along with his good disciplinary record. On that basis, the maximum allowed reduction of 50% was given to the player, reducing the period of suspension to one week.’

Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Photosport

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Craig Lewis