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Tuqiri suspended for five matches

By Peter Williams 20/08/2006 07:59:45 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies winger Lote Tuqiri won't play Australia's last Tri Nations Test of the season in South Africa after being handed a five-match suspension for a dangerous tackle on All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

A three-man SANZAR judiciary panel in Auckland found Tuqiri guilty for the second-half spear tackle on McCaw in last night's 34-27 loss at Eden Park after being cited by match commissioner Willem Venter.

Tuqiri, who pleaded not guilty, said he would consider appealing against the decision.

"I thought it was a bit harsh but I've got to cop it," he told reporters.

"We've had a crack here but no good, (I'm) looking forward to going home."

The winger said McCaw's action in the tackle had helped cause the accident but he had written a letter to McCaw apologising for what happened.

McCaw landed head first from the tackle in the second half but recovered to play out the match.

"Certainly it looked pretty harsh but ... rugby's a competitive sport and I was making a tackle on behalf of my team," Tuqiri said.

"I think his upper body lost control on where he was at since I just drove and unfortunately he landed awkwardly."

Wallabies lawyer Tony Dempsey said McCaw had lost and sought to regain the ball in the tackle, contributing to the resulting fall.

"The circumstances that led to it were unforseen for Lote," Dempsey said.

Tuqiri said his letter sent to McCaw's hotel said: "Just hope he's all right, there's no malice in it. Good luck for the couple of games in South Africa, I'm sure the boys'll get up."

The suspension means Tuqiri will also miss the upcoming provincial championship among Australia's Super 14 teams and the first European tour match against Osprey in Swansea, Wales.

He'll be available for a Test against Wales in Cardiff on November 4.

The rest of Tuqiri's teammates left Auckland Sunday morning for Australia to have a week's break before reassembling for their final Tri-Nations match against South Africa in Johannesburg on September 9.

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