ENGLAND lock Courtney Lawes will miss two World Cup games after he was found guilty of kneeing Argentina’s Mario Ledesma.
Lawes, the first player to be banned at the tournament, is out of England’s Pool B matches against Romania and Georgia but will be available to face Scotland on October 1.
The Northampton lock entered a not guilty plea at a disciplinary hearing in Auckland on Tuesday – having been cited following England’s 13-9 win against the Pumas in Dunedin.
The independent judicial officer Terry Willis, from Australia, reduced the ban from three to two weeks on account of Lawes’ “excellent disciplinary record and remorse”. England manager Martin Johnson was disappointed with the verdict but the early indications were that England would not appeal.
Johnson said: “He has dived in to make what he thinks is a try-saving tackle and we thought any contact with the knees was incidental.
“They obviously saw it a little bit differently.”
Johnson will wait until England’s travelling QC Richard Smith has studied the full written judgement before making a final decision over an appeal. England have the resources to cover Lawes’ absence for the Georgia and Romania games, with Louis Deacon, Simon Shaw and Tom Palmer in the squad as locks, while Tom Croft and Nick Easter can both fill in.
“It is disappointing to lose him,” said Johnson. “For a young man he played very well. It is not great.”
England are confident captain Lewis Moody will be available to face Georgia on Sunday.
Moody has not played since limping out of England’s first warm-up international with knee ligament damage.
Johnson added: “Another week is always better when you have been injured for a long time but, at some point, you’ve got to go and we are hopeful.”
FILL MY HOLE: Lawes’ ban has left Johnson (inset) frustrated