Big hitter: Flip van der Merwe of the Bulls (No.4) in action against the Tahs.

Big hitter: Flip van der Merwe of the Bulls (No.4) in action against the Tahs. Photo: Getty Images

Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe has been hit with a three-week Super Rugby suspension for striking Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan.

The second-rower was charged over the incident in the 75th minute of the Tahs' 19-12 win in Sydney on Saturday night.

A SANZAR hearing, chaired by Adam Casselden, on Wednesday found van der Merwe guilty and the 34-Test Springboks forward was banned for three weeks.

Van der Merwe will miss this Saturday's clash against the Western Force in Perth, as well as home matches against the Cheetahs and Stormers in Pretoria.

"On the balance of probabilities... van der Merwe did strike Ryan's nose with his hand, arm or fist but that no injury was sustained," said Casselden in a statement.

Casselden added that Ryan was in a vulnerable position at the base of a collapsed scrum and unable to protect himself.

"But due to the player's good character, lengthy professional playing career and his relatively clean disciplinary record, I was satisfied that the five-week entry point should be reduced to three weeks," he said.

AAP