Bundee Aki could miss all three of Ireland's games in the Autumn Nations Series, after receiving an eight-week ban following his red card against the Stormers last week.
The Connacht centre was shown a straight red card following a dangerous clearout on Stormers wing Seabelo Senatla, shortly after coming on as a replacement in the province's 38-15 defeat in Stellenbosch.
It was the third red card handed out to the Ireland international in the last three years, after he was sent off against Samoa in 2019 and against England in 2021.
The BTK United Rugby Championship have confirmed he will be suspended for a period of eight weeks, which would see him miss Connacht's next five games, as well as Ireland's November Tests against South Africa, Fiji and Australia.
However, should he complete 'Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention' course, the ban will be reduced by one week, which would see him available to face Australia on 19 November.
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Aki was charged by an independent disciplinary committee under Law 9.20(a) – A Player must not charge into a ruck or maul, and combined with Aki's actions and demeanor towards the officials following his red card, it was deemed his offence merited a top-end 10-week suspension.
However, the 10-week ban was eventually changed to eight weeks, as explained by the URC in a statement.
"The Judicial Officer then considered if there were any mitigating factors and found that the Player's acceptance that he had committed an act of foul play [during the off-field disciplinary process], expression of remorse, apologies to both the opposing player and referee, and willingness to engage with his club coaching staff on a plan to address this issue, were relevant mitigating factors. These mitigating factors warranted a reduction in the sanction of four weeks.
"The Player’s previous suspensions for red cards in 2019 and 2021 for foul play involving head contact, as well as his suspension and warning for previous conduct relating to interactions with referees, were considered aggravating factors, which the Judicial Officer decided warranted a further two weeks of sanction.
"As a result the Player will be suspended for a period of eight weeks."
Fixtures Bundee Aki is unavailable for:
Vodacom Bulls v Connacht Rugby, 30 September 2022
Connacht Rugby v Munster, 7 October 2022
Connacht Rugby v Leinster, 14 October 2022, BKT URC
Connacht Rugby v Scarlets, 21 October 2022, BKT URC
Ospreys v Connacht Rugby, 29 October 2022 BKT URC
Ireland v South Africa, 5 November 2022, Autumn Nations Series
Ireland v Fiji, 12 November 2022, Autumn Nations Series
Ireland v Australia, 19 November 2022 Autumn Nations Series (substituted if the Player successfully completes the Head Contact Process Coaching Intervention)
Follow the 2022/23 BKT United Rugby Championship across RTÉ radio, TV, RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app.
Watch live coverage of Ulster v Leinster (Friday 30 September) on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, or listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra.
Watch Munster v Zebre Parma (Saturday 1 October) live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player.