Manu Tuilagi will be forced to watch from the sidelines as Leicester try to make it three titles in as many years
Leicester starlet Manu Tuilagi will be suspended for the Premiership final and England Saxons' Churchill Cup campaign after his punch on RBS 6 Nations hero Chris Ashton.
The Tigers centre, who has shot to prominence after an outstanding season, was initially banned for ten weeks by disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett.
But with Ashton judged to have provoked the 20-year-old with a push the punishment was halved meaning Tuilagi could get his chance to impress England boss Martin Johnson in the World Cup warm-up matches in August.
Tuilagi only received a yellow card, the same as Ashton, in Leicester’s 11-3 win over Northampton and Blackett admits the rookie must learn his lessons.
“This sort of incident is very damaging to the image of the game,” said Blackett.
“Had it occurred in the high street an offender would have been prosecuted in the criminal courts.
“However we also determined that there was some provocation from Chris Ashton who pushed and struck him in the back with his knee.
“The top-end range is eight to 52 weeks and we determined that the appropriate entry point within that range is ten weeks.
“This was reduced by 50 per-cent to reflect Manu’s youth and inexperience, his admission of guilt and his genuine remorse.”