New Zealand hooker Andrew Hore given five-week ban for hitting Wales lock Bradley Davies

 

New Zealand hooker Andrew Hore will miss Saturday's QBE international against England after he was banned for five weeks for striking Wales lock Bradley Davies.

Hore's suspension will run until February 24 of next year to ensure he also misses three Super Rugby pre-season matches for the Highlanders.

Davies was taken to hospital after he was hit from behind by Hore, just 30 seconds into the All Blacks' 33-10 win at the Millennium Stadium last Saturday.

The International Rugby Board's judicial officer, Professor Lorne Crerar, deemed the swinging arm offence to be "inherently dangerous" but accepted Hore had not intended to strike Davies in the head.

Hore was initially hit with an eight-week ban for a top-end offence but it was reduced to five when Professor Crerar took into account mitigating factors, including his daily contact with Davies since the incident.

Hore's king hit, which was not seen by referee Craig Joubert or his assistants, left Davies with concussion that has ruled him and out of Wales' final autumn Test against Australia.

With veteran All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu struggling with a calf injury, New Zealand coach Steve Hansen may have to award Dane Coles his first Test start.

A statement issued by Six Nations Rugby, which oversees the disciplinary process for the autumn Tests, read: "The judicial officer (Crerar) held that the act of foul play was inherently dangerous, being a deliberate swinging of the arm, delivered with significant force, causing serious injury to the victim player, Bradley Davies, who was unsighted.

"However, the judicial officer found that the player had not intended to make contact with the victim player's head.

"In categorising the seriousness of the offence the judicial officer held that it was worthy of a top end entry point under the IRB's sanctions table, and that the entry point should be eight weeks.

"The judicial officer held that there were no aggravating factors.

"The judicial officer acknowledged the mitigating factors of acceptance of guilt by the player, his genuine remorse, as evidenced by his daily contact with the injured player, his exemplary disciplinary record, and his conduct throughout the hearing and imposed a suspension of five weeks."

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster, Hore himself and his legal team impressed upon Professor Crerar the importance of the Highlanders' pre-season friendlies.

The statement continued: "The judicial officer received unreserved assurances from Ian Foster, assistant coach, New Zealand, the player and his legal representative that the pre-season matches to be played by the Highlanders during the weekends of February 1, 8 and 15 all had significant and meaningful consequences for the player in accordance with IRB regulation 17.

"The player is accordingly suspended up to and including Sunday 24 February 2013, and has the right of appeal."

Earlier in the day, Australia lock Sitaleki Timani was suspended from the Wallabies' game against Wales after pleading guilty to striking an opponent.

Timani caught Italian prop Andrea Lo Cicero with his forearm during a first-half scuffle in the Wallabies' 22-19 win last Saturday.

He connected with Azzurri hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini with the same blow.

International Rugby Board's judicial officer David Martin deemed the offence to be at the lower end of the scale and banned Timani until midnight on December 2.

Australia are already without suspended lock Rob Simmons for the Cardiff clash but Kane Douglas has rejoined the squad after being sidelined for the last two weeks with a knee injury.

PA

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