Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi will find out this evening whether he will miss out on the Aviva Premiership final after being cited for punching Northampton wing Chris Ashton.
Tuilagi landed a three-punch combination on the England star in the 32nd minute of Leicester’s 11-3 top-flight semi-final success on Saturday, with both players receiving yellow cards from referee Wayne Barnes on the advice of assistant referee Robin Goodliffe.
Tuilagi was fortunate not to receive a red card for his actions and independent citing officer Alan Mansell has decided he has a case to answer.
The Tigers three-quarter, who turns 20 today, will appear before an RFU disciplinary hearing, chaired by Judge Jeff Blackett, in London tonight.
Tuilagi, a candidate for selection for England’s World Cup squad, could face a suspension of three to 11 weeks or more, which could not only rule him out of the Premiership final against Saracens on May 28, but also next month’s Churchill Cup.
Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill, who will go in search of a hat-trick of league titles as Leicester boss when his side travel to Twickenham a week on Saturday, admits he expects the Premiership’s Young Player of the Year to be reprimanded.
Cockerill told Press Association Sport: “He reacted poorly to something that had happened, he has thrown a punch and you can’t do that.
“The rules say that if you strike or punch a player then it is a red card offence, make of that what you will.
“I am sure there will be some form of sanction.”
Cockerill refused to comment in detail on the incident in the wake of Saturday’s game, but having had a chance to review the footage he accepts his man was in the wrong.
He said: “I hadn’t seen all the angles when I went to the press conference on Saturday so I didn’t want to talk about it. But I have seen it since and I have never shied away from the responsibility of our players being disciplined.
“Manu can’t react like he did, he knows that. He is a young man, he will pay the penalty and learn his lesson.
“Will it be a loss? Yes. Can he do what he did on Saturday? No.”