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Kyle Sinckler apologises after receiving seven-week ban for gouging that rules him out of England's autumn series

The Independent logo The Independent 04/10/2017 Sports Staff
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Kyle Sinckler has apologised to team-mates after receiving a seven-week ban for gouging that effectively rules him out of England's autumn series.

The British and Irish Lions tighthead appeared at a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing on Tuesday night after being cited for making contact with the eye and/or eye area of Michael Paterson in Harlequins' defeat at Northampton last weekend.

"The panel heard evidence from the player as to his actions. They found that it was an intentional action but that due to the absence of injury it merited a low end entry point," panel chairman Dan White said.

Sinckler - England's second-choice tighthead - accepted the charge of making contact with the eye but insisted the gouge was accidental. The 24-year-old is free to play from November 21 but having spent seven weeks on the sidelines taking in the Tests against Australia and Argentina, he is highly unlikely to feature in the final autumn international against Samoa four days later.

"I accept the outcome of the hearing and wanted to go on record to say I am sorry that I have let my team-mates down," Sinckler said in a statement issued by Harlequins.

"More importantly I feel terrible that anyone would think I would deliberately gouge an opponent. That was never my intention - it was a genuine mistake and an act of recklessness on my part.

"I will spend the next seven weeks working hard on my fitness and rugby to ensure that when I am able to get back on the field I am fit and ready to do so and make the best possible contribution to Quins."

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Sinckler was sent off against Northampton last weekend (Getty)

The entry point sanction for the offence is 12 weeks, meaning five weeks were shaved off by the panel.

If available, Sinckler would have been involved in the autumn series as understudy to Dan Cole, making an impact off the bench though his carrying and speed, and now Eddie Jones must examine new options in the position.

All 11 of his caps have been won as a replacement, three of them during last summer's Lions tour to New Zealand when he was picked ahead of Cole, although his tour was marred by his arrest by Auckland police for a minor offence after the series decider.

Test recognition from the Lions was a significant breakthrough, but he was omitted from England's squad for their most recent training camp in Oxford and is battling with Will Collier for tighthead recognition at Harlequins.

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Sinckler would have been an understudy to Dan Cole (Getty)

Although this is his first ban, Sinckler's combustible temperament had already established him as a fiery competitor.

"Despite Kyle's unfair public reputation he actually has a very good on-field disciplinary record," Quins director of rugby John KingstonĀ said.

"There is no doubt in my mind that this incident was accidental, but both myself, and as a club we fully accept the importance of player welfare and believe wholeheartedly that there is no place for any players' hand ever to be around the eye area of an opponent.

"We therefore accept the sanction and will be working with the whole squad around improving our discipline over the coming matches."

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