Owen Franks will miss the Crusaders' match against the Chiefs on Saturday after receiving a two-week ban for punching.
Robert Stelzner, the judicial officer, accepted Franks would have played for the Crusaders' feeder team, the Knights, on the weekend of 7-8 March had he not been suspended and said the match would count towards the ban. The prop will therefore be available to play against the Lions on 14 March.
The 27-year-old pleaded guilty after being cited for striking Highlanders prop Josh Hohneck twice on the back of the head with his forearm in the 10th minute of the match in Dunedin.
'After taking all relevant facts of the incident into consideration, I found the incident to have a lower end entry point for breaches of 10.4 (a) Punching or striking which stipulates a two week suspension,' said Stelzner.
'The player submitted that he was attempting to remove the Highlanders player from the wrong side of maul. His intention was to remove the player, who was quite bigger than him, by grabbing him around the chest which would require some force, then using his bodyweight to attempt to force his opponent down and away from the ball. The player conceded that in these attempts, he struck his opponent with his arm in a careless way, but there was no malice intended.
'I concluded that while the offending was not intentional, the player's actions were reckless in his attempts to remove the opponent from the maul. Aggravating factors involved were that there were two instances of a strike, with the second being the more reckless than the first along with the opponent being in a somewhat vulnerable position with some risk of injury. I added one week to the suspension as a result of these factors. This was then reduced by one week due to mitigating factors including the player's admission of culpability and making concessions where required for his actions, the player has had an extensive career at Super Rugby and Test level with no suspensions to his name.
'After taking all these factors into consideration, I found that a suspension of two weeks was warranted, which was accepted by the player.'
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