All Blacks star Savea banned after crude throat-slitting gesture
New Zealand back-rower Ardie Savea has been handed a one-game ban after making a throat-slitting gesture to an opponent.
The 29-year-old flanker, who has captained the All Blacks and won 70 caps, apologised after Friday's Super Rugby game between the Hurricanes and Melbourne Rebels.
Savea aimed the mock threat at Melbourne's Ryan Louwrens after being sin-binned, earning him a citing.
Judicial committee chairman Nigel Hampton determined neither the yellow-card offence for Savea's part in escalating a ruckus, nor the afters that followed, deserved to be treated as worthy of a straight red card.
But collectively they warranted a sending-off, it was ruled, meaning Savea is suspended for one week, forcing him to miss Saturday's home clash with the Blues.
In a statement quoted by New Zealand media, Hampton said: "That was accepted by the player, and the player is therefore suspended for one week, up to and including Saturday 11 March 2023."
Savea said his behaviour was "out of character", telling broadcaster Stan Sport after the game: "I can understand the fans are furious around the gesture that I made. It was a heat-of-the-moment kind of thing, that's footy, but I understand, kids are watching us."