Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock cops two-week ban for striking
An exemplary record has reduced Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock's Super Rugby suspension to two weeks.
A Sanzaar judicial committee found All Blacks lock Whitelock guilty of striking with the arm during his team's 48-21 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Whitelock grazed the face of Cheetahs prop Charles Marais with his elbow in the 72nd minute, seemingly in response to being pushed in mid-air while fielding a kick.
The committee deemed the foul play merited a mid range punishment of four weeks in line with World Rugby guidelines.
The three-man panel then halved the ban after factoring the 28-year-old's squeaky clean record across 110 Super Rugby games and 84 Tests.
The competition-leading Crusaders will be without Whitelock for this weekend's match against the Bulls in Pretoria and the subsequent home match against the Hurricanes.
It disrupts an impressive season for Whitelock, who has started all nine games in their unbeaten start to the season and played 80 minutes in six of them.
Coach Scott Robertson can call on two other All Blacks locks, Scott Barrett and Luke Romano.
However, he must also anoint a new captain.
It can't be All Blacks skipper Kieran Read, who is sidelined for about six weeks after breaking his thumb against the Cheetahs.