Despite appearing for the Sharks last week halfback Frederic Michalak has effectively been serving a three-month ban for a dangerous tackle he made in the Currie Cup Final last year.
Michalak was withdrawn from the Sharks team to take on the Kings in a pre-season friendly this weekend after he was handed a one-week ban at a hearing on Tuesday, but the implications of the offence have been more far-reaching than that.
The French international was cited for a high and dangerous tackle he made on Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies in the heat of the final, but left for France immediately afterwards and as a result was unable to take the field when he got back to his home country.
SARU manager of legal affairs Christo Ferreira told this website: "He was cited after the Currie Cup Final for a dangerous high tackle made on Elton Jantjies, but he returned to France straight after the game and we were unable to get hold of him through his agent.
"We then sent the French federation an email confirming that he was cited and that he was not allowed to play any rugby until he returned for the hearing. He eventually returned last week and the hearing was held on Tuesday [February 14]," he explained.
The result of the hearing is that Michalak will serve a one-week suspension which rules him out of contention for the match against the Kings, but means that he will be available for the Sharks' first Super Rugby game against the Bulls.
Michalak did play against the Boland Cavaliers last week, but this was because SARU were unaware that he was back in South Africa and available to attend his hearing.
"We were unaware that he was back in the country already and only noticed when he played. The hearing was arranged immediately afterwards," said Ferreira.
Sharks coach John Plumtree has replaced Michalak with Springbok scrumhalf Charl McLeod and has also decided to rest veteran flank Jacques Botes who has an infection in his leg as a precautionary measure.
Lubabalo Mtembu comes into the starting XV in his place with Marcell Coetzee shifting to the other side of the scrum.
"With the injury to Jacques Botes, it gives me an opportunity to play Marcell Coetzee at six where I think he could have potential," explained Plumtree.
Sharks (revised): 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Lubabalo Mtembu, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Ross Skeate, 21 Keegan Daniel, 22 Cobus Reinach, 23 Meyer Bosman, 24 Paul Jordaan.
Date: Friday, February 17
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT)
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant referees: Christie du Preez, Phillip Bosch
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