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All Black Keven Mealamu banned for rest of tour

Mike Tindall of England

Highlights - England 16-26 New Zealand

New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu has been handed a four-week ban for striking England's Lewis Moody with his head during Saturday's 26-16 victory.

The 31-year-old will miss the remainder of the All Blacks' northern hemisphere tour after being given the punishment by the International Rugby Board.

Mealamu grabbed Moody's shirt and appeared to move his head towards the back of the England flanker's.

Mealamu denied deliberately striking Moody and has the right to appeal.

Having beaten England, the All Blacks face Scotland at Murrayfield next Saturday, before meeting Ireland in Dublin on 20 November and Wales in Cardiff on 27 November as they chase a third grand slam over the home nations in six years.

Mealamu was charged by the citing commissioner, Ireland's John West, and was issued with a suspension after an hearing in Glasgow on Tuesday led by IRB judicial officer Lorne Crerar.

606: DEBATE

"I'm gutted to be honest, really disappointed," said Mealamu, who has 48 hours to launch an appeal. "I don't feel the outcome shows what sort of person I am.

"I've played more than 100 Super games and 82 Tests and never had any foul play against me.

"I do take it personally. I'm not that sort of person."

New Zealand head coach Graham Henry defended his player at the time, saying: "He's been cited for striking the head. It surprises me. He's probably the cleanest player in the world, isn't he? It was purely accidental as far as I know."

New Zealand had uncapped hooker Hika Elliot, 23, on the bench at Twickenham.

Lewis Moody holds his head on the ground as Steve Thompson squares up to Mealamu (left)
Lewis Moody holds his head as Steve Thompson squares up to Mealamu

The more experienced Andrew Hore, capped 47 times, is in the All Blacks' touring party, but has not played since May because of injury.

The tourists suffered a further blow after it was decided prop Ben Franks will have to return to New Zealand after suffering a bulged disc during training on Friday.

Franks was due to be on the bench at Twickenham but had to be replaced by John Afoa.

The All Blacks have sent for Neemia Tialata, who won the last of his 43 caps against Wales in June, as a replacement for Franks.

Head coach Graham Henry said: "It's obviously a huge disappointment for Ben but he understands that it's in his best interests to go home and rehabilitate.

"Neemia's ability to play both tight-head and loose-head makes him the logical choice to replace Ben."



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see also
Johnson frustrated by slow start
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
England 16-26 New Zealand
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Autumn Tests as they happened
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Australia 26-24 New Zealand
30 Oct 10 |  Rugby Union


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