Tevita Kuridrani banned for five weeks
November 20, 2013
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Greg Growden and Russ Barwick discuss the fallout from Dublin
Tevita Kuridrani will miss the Wallabies' remaining November Tests against Scotland and Wales after he received a five-week ban for a dangerous tip tackle on Ireland forward Peter O'Mahony during the 32-15 win in Dublin last Saturday.
Kuridrani appeared before IRB judicial officer Professor Lorne Crerar in London on Tuesday, when representations were made by the player and on his behalf, but Crerar, having studied video footage of the incident, upheld the red card issued by New Zealand referee Chris Pollock seven minutes from full-time.
Crerar decided Kuridrani's offence should be classed as mid-range, warranting an eight-week ban, before adding a further week as a deterrent. He then deducted four weeks to reflect Kuridrani's previous good disciplinary record and other mitigating factors to leave the player with a five-week suspension.
Kuridrani's future playing schedule was also taken into account, and his ban will expire on February 16. The centre, with eight Wallabies caps, has the right of appeal.
Kuridrani's absence means Australia will be deprived of at least six players against Scotland at Murrayfield in Edinburgh, with Ewen McKenzie having imposed one-match bans on wingers Adam Ashley-Cooper and Nick Cummins, back-rower Liam Gill and front-rowers Tatafu Polota-Nau and Benn Robinson for excessive drinking and returning late to the team hotel early last Wednesday morning in Dublin. Prop Paddy Ryan was also given a one-match ban over the incident, but he will serve his suspension in the tour finale against Wales at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on November 30 because Australia have only five props chosen in their 32-man touring squad and Robinson or Ryan must be selected against Scotland and Wales to fulfill IRB regulations.
The Australian Rugby Union is weighing up whether to appeal the ban but the in-form Brumbies rookie faces an almost certain finish to his end-of-season tour. And his absence leaves a massive hole in the pivotal No.13 jumper, especially with veteran utility back Ashley-Cooper also stood down from the match. With fellow starting winger Cummins also banned, McKenzie is set to promote Joe Tomane and Chris Feauai-Sautia to his strife-torn three-quarters line. Both are expected to start on the wings, and McKenzie, who names his team on Thursday, must make a tricky decision on who to improvise with at No.13. The Wallabies have also called up Peter Betham as cover, the New South Wales Waratahs wing having made his Test debut in Bledisloe III against the All Blacks.
Christian Leali'ifano, currently covering No.10 and 12 from the bench, will be the safest move but the coach may also gamble by moving Israel Folau from fullback, where's he's been a dangerous attacking weapon, or promoting Mike Harris. Leali'ifano, Harris and Folau have all played at outside centre in senior rugby.
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