Highlanders prop Kane Hames has been banned for five weeks for punching an opponent in Saturday's clash with the Crusaders in Dunedin.
The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC accepted a guilty plea from Hames for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, after he was cited following the Super Rugby match at the weekend.
Hames has been suspended from all forms of the game up to and including 28 March.
The incident occurred in the 74th minute of the match played at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.
SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Robert Stelzner SC assessed the case.
In his finding, Stelzner ruled the following:
"As the Duty Judicial Officer, I considered all of the evidence before me including video footage, Citing Commissioner's report, a photograph and medical report of the injury sustained by Mr Dominic Bird and the submissions of Mr Aaron Lloyd made on behalf of the player.
"After taking all relevant facts of the incident into consideration, I found the incident to have a mid-range entry point which stipulates a five week suspension.
"Several aggravating factors for the case included the injury to Mr Bird and a deterrent for this type of conduct occurring in the game, resulting in a two week increase to the sanction. This was then reduced by two weeks due to Hames' remorse and prompt guilty plea for the incident.
"After taking all these factors into consideration, I found that a suspension of five weeks was warranted which was accepted by the player.
"The player is suspended for five weeks up to and including 28th March 2015."