ALESANA Tuilagi, one of Samoa’s most experienced and influential players, has been suspended for five weeks for an act of foul play in his team’s defeat by Japan. The ban starts immediately, meaning the winger will miss Samoa’s final Rugby World Cup match against Scotland on Saturday - unless he is successful with an appeal.

Tuilagi denied the charge of foul play, brought against him by the independent Citing Commissioner, Yves Thieffine of France, for striking Harumichi Tatekawa with his knee during the second minute of the match in Milton Keynes last Saturday. However, the Judicial Officer, Antony Davies of England, upheld the citing and ruled it was a mid-range offence. That would normally mean a ban of at least eight weeks, but Davies accepted that should be reduced to five because of a number of mitigating factors including the player’s good disciplinary record over a long career.

As things stand, the 34-year-old will be unable to play for his club, Newcastle Falcons, until 10 November. Samoa are due to name their team to play Scotland tomorrow. The match, the last for both teams in Pool B, is at St James’ Park in Newcastle.