Waratahs duo suspended

Lock Will Skelton and hooker Tolu Latu will miss the Waratahs' tour of South Africa through suspension.

Latu and Skelton were deemed to have contravened Law 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackle, in an incident involving Sam Whitelock that occurred in the 17th minute of the match between the Waratahs and Crusaders. They have been given four- and two-week suspensions respectively, ruling them out of the upcoming matches against the Lions and the Cheetahs.

In his finding, Sanzar judicial officer Robert Stelzner ruled the following:

'As the judicial officer, I considered all evidence before me including the video footage, additional video provided by the Waratahs, citing commissioner's report, medical information for the Crusaders player, Sam Whitelock, who was involved in the incident and the submissions made for the player by his legal representatives, Anthony Black and Bruce Hodgkinson.

'After taking all relevant facts into consideration, I found the incident to have a lower-end entry point for breaching of 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackle which stipulates a four-week suspension.

'Mitigating factors which were taken into account included the player’s clean record, his relative youthfulness and the good character references supplied on his behalf. This resulted in the sanction being reduced by two weeks.

'Two offending players, Skelton and Silatolu Latu, were involved in the incident. Latu played a more active role in the lifting and twisting of their opponent, Sam Whitelock, contributing more significantly to the end result than Skelton. Skelton nevertheless also lifted and twisted Whitelock in the tackle, which is why he too was found to have breached the applicable law.

'Given the lesser extent of his involvement, however, the sanction in the case of Skelton did not in my view warrant an increase from the entry level sanction to serve as a deterrent. He was unaware of the actions of his fellow player, Silatolu Latu, and although he dropped his opponent after he had lifted and turned him, it appeared that Latu was the player who had continued with the tip tackle causing their opponent to land in the manner in which he ultimately did.

'The player was found to have contravened Law 10.4 (j) and is suspended up to and including Saturday 6 June 2015.'

The Waratahs have expressed their surprise and disappointment at the ruling and have decided to appeal the decision.

'Without going into lengthy detail on the hearing the fact that our legal representatives have recommended that we appeal these decisions speaks for itself,' said Waratahs CEO Greg Harris.

'We would not be intending to pursue this course of action unless we were of the opinion that both players were entitled to have their situations reconsidered by the appeal committee.

'Our intentions are to appeal the decision, however, we will wait until we receive the written report from Sanzar before doing so.'

Harris also confirmed Skelton would be travelling with the team to South Africa in the hope he will be cleared to play.

'It's critical to the team, the club and our supporters that we leave no stone unturned in our campaign to make the finals,' Harris said.

Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images