ACT Brumbies ace Tom Banks is set to spend a month on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a fractured cheekbone on a bittersweet day after his red card was torn up by the SANZAAR judiciary.
Banks has escaped with a warning for his tackle on Western Force winger Toni Pulu despite being sent off during the game, with the outcome reigniting debate about red cards and inconsistencies between referees and judiciary panels.
SANZAAR's foul play review committee has cleared Banks to return to play, but a facial fracture suffered in the collision with Pulu means he will miss Saturday's clash with the Queensland Reds in Brisbane regardless.
But the in-form fullback is hopeful of a return as soon as round 11, offsetting fears he could miss the Brumbies' finals campaign and a looming Test series with the Wallabies.
"I flew back [to Canberra from Perth] next to him. He obviously was very sore, it's a very painful injury. He's into surgery now so hopefully we'll have him back on the park before too long," Brumbies assistant coach Rod Seib said.
"He is disappointed, but understand that there is still a long part of the season to go so he's really hopeful for being back there for the bulk of the season and hopefully if we get through to the finals."
Brumbies insiders believe sanity prevailed as Banks avoided a suspension for a divisive tackle which sparked debate among rugby fans, with Jesse Mogg to step in at fullback against the Reds.
"With respect to sanction the foul play review committee found the act of foul play did not breach the red card threshold due to mitigating factors," SANZAAR foul play review committee chairman Michael Heron said.
"The foul play review committee found that initial contact was shoulder to shoulder, there was an effort to wrap in the tackle and the tackled player contributed to the contact with a sudden and late change in direction.
"The foul play review committee did believe that the offence was close to the red card threshold and as a result issued a warning [the equivalent of a yellow card]. The player is therefore free to resume playing."
The news isn't so good for Reds coach Brad Thorn, who will be without prop Dane Zander for three games after being banned for a high tackle.
His tackle was deemed a mid-range offence, which carries a penalty of six weeks, but that was slashed to three after taking into account his clean record and a guilty plea.
Zander can apply to have the final week of the sanction scrapped by undergoing a "coaching intervention" which addresses tackle technique, as Brumbies star Rob Valetini did which allowed him to play in round one.
SUPER RUGBY PACIFIC ROUND SEVEN
Saturday: Queensland Reds v ACT Brumbies at Lang Park, 7.45pm. Broadcast live on Stan Sport.
My passion for journalism can be traced back to Mighty Ducks match reports and reading the Sunday paper with my old man. A love of sport turned into a passion for telling stories, breaking news and being a reliable voice.
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