Bay of Plenty wing Fa’asiu Fuatai will miss his side’s next three matches after being handed a three-week suspension for a dangerous lifting tackle on Wellington captain Du’Plessis Kirifi over the weekend.
Fuatai was sent from the field as a result of the second half incident, where both he and teammate Chase Tiatia lifted Kirifi while cleaning out a breakdown near their own tryline.
The manoeuvre forced Kirifi to land headfirst on the ground, leaving referee Brendon Pickerill with little choice other than to dish out a red card.
Although the entry point for a dangerous tackle sanction sits at six weeks, Fuatai’s offence was deemed to be at the lower end of the spectrum in terms of seriousness.
That, combined with a mix of influencing factors – including having faced the judiciary for a similar offence in the past, expressing immediate remorse for his actions and apologising to Kirifi post-match – resulted in a suspension length of three weeks.
The ban will be another blow for Bay of Plenty, who went on to lose the game 32-10 leaving the Steamers in sixth place in the Premiership and five points clear of the relegation zone.
Bay of Plenty will be without Fuatai for their upcoming matches against Auckland, Tasman and Manawatu.
Read the full New Zealand Rugby press release below:
Bay of Plenty’s Fa’asiu Fuatai has received a three-week suspension after being red carded in the Wellington v Bay of Plenty match in Wellington on Friday 25 September.
Fuatai was sent from the field by referee Brendon Pickerill in the 66th minute of the match for his involvement in a lifting tackle that resulted in opposition player’s head making direct contact with the ground.
The Duty Judicial Officer Aminiasi Kefu found that Fuatai’s action was reckless and the entry point for the sanction was ruled to be at the lower end of the scale of seriousness which has a sanction of six weeks.
In taking into account aggravating factors, Kefu added two weeks to the sanction as Fuatai had previously been to the judiciary for a similar offence, noting the outcome needed to act as a deterrent to end the pattern of offending.
Kefu noted that another player was also involved in the tackle and that Fuatai’s participation was only moderate. Other mitigating factors included Fuatai expressing remorse and apologising to the opposition players directly after the match.
After considering all factors, the final suspension was confirmed as three weeks, Fuatai will miss Bay of Plenty’s matches again Auckland, Tasman and Manawatu.
In that same match, Bay of Plenty’s Jordan Lay was cited for dangerous play in a ruck, he will face a judicial hearing this week.
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