AUSTRALIA have suffered a blow ahead of Saturday’s Test against England after forward Rob Simmons was handed an eight-week ban for a dangerous tackle during last week’s defeat in France.
Simmons came on as a substitute during the Wallabies’ humiliating 33-6 loss in Paris and was reported to the International Rugby Board [IRB] for a tip tackle on France forward Yannick Nyanga.
IRB judicial officer Robert Williams, who heard Simmons’s case in London yesterday, added two weeks’ aggravation to the usual 12 weeks for a high-end scale sanction, but warranted six weeks mitigation based on the forward’s previous disciplinary record, which means the 23-year-old misses the Test against England on Saturday as well as clashes with Italy and Wales.
The Wallabies will be desperate to respond from their embarrassment in Paris at Twickenham but the ban means Nathan Sharpe and Sitaleki Timani are their only specialist second-row forwards fit to play at Twickenham. Blindside flanker Dave Dennis is expected to replace Simmons at lock with Kane Douglas also out with a knee injury.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster will name his starting 15 to face the Wallabies today.