(Reuters) - Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock has been suspended for two weeks for striking an opponent during his side's 48-21 win over the Cheetahs on Saturday.
The All Blacks forward was shown a yellow card after he drove an elbow into face of an opponent in the 71st minute of the match in Bloemfontein, but the citing commissioner deemed the offence to be worthy of a red card for foul play.
"Taking into account mitigating factors... the Judicial Committee reduced the otherwise applicable sanction from 4 weeks to 2 weeks," the committee said in a statement issued by governing body SANZAAR on Monday.
Whitelock will not be allowed to play again until after May 13, leaving the Crusaders short of experience as All Blacks skipper Kieran Read is out with a broken thumb.
Whitelock will miss the Crusaders' final game in South Africa against the Bulls on Saturday, as well as their home match against the Hurricanes on May 13.
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond)