All Black Franks cops ban
Wellington - All Black prop Owen Franks has received a two-match ban for striking an opponent during the Crusaders' win over the Highlanders in Dunedin, although he will miss only one Super Rugby game, officials said on Tuesday.
Franks pleaded guilty after being cited for hitting Highlanders forward Josh Hohneck twice on the back of the head with his forearm early in the Crusaders' 26-20 win last Saturday.
The 67-Test veteran claimed he was trying to remove Hohneck from a maul and there was no malicious intent, SANZAR judicial officer Robert Stelzner said.
Stelzner said in determining Franks' punishment he took into account that "the player has had an extensive career at Super Rugby and Test level with no suspensions to his name".
The Crusaders play the Chiefs this weekend then have a bye before facing the Lions on March 14.
But Stelzner accepted Franks would have played for Crusaders' feeder team, the Knights, on the weekend of March 7-8 had he not been suspended and the match would count towards the ban.
The decision means he will be eligible to face the Lions.