All Blacks star Savea suspended over throat-slitting gesture
Wellington Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea has been suspended for a week after making a throat-slitting gesture towards an opponent during a fiery clash with the Melbourne Rebels.
All Blacks star Savea was called before a judiciary committee on Tuesday evening after running his thumb across his throat following an argument with Rebels halfback Ryan Louwrens in Friday's game.
The 29-year-old Savea, who had been shown a yellow card just before the incident, later apologised.
The loose forward said that, as a role model, he regretted the action that overshadowed his team's 39-33 win.
The judiciary committee said it issued Savea with a warning for "unsportsmanlike play" after deciding that his action did not meet the threshold for a red card.
However, it said the combination of the yellow card and the warning amounted to "persistent offending" by Savea.
The committee ruled that "an appropriate sanction" would be a one-week suspension.
Savea, who has played 70 Tests for the All Blacks, including four as captain, acknowledged after the game that he lost control and revealed his father had given him a stern dressing down.
"I got off the field and my old man called me and kind of groaned me off, so that's a lesson learned," he told reporters.
"He's a pretty calm dude, it's not often I get a call like that after the game. Mum was in the crowd too and she asked if I was all good, because usually I'm not like that."
Former All Blacks winger John Kirwan has defended Savea and questioned whether the incident was worthy of the judiciary committee.
The same throat-slitting gesture has occasionally featured in the All Blacks pre-game haka.
Savea's elder brother Julian, a former All Blacks winger who played in Friday's game, defended his sibling on social media.
"Ardie is the most dedicated and passionate guy I know in rugby," the Hurricanes back wrote on Twitter.
"He admitted his wrong doing straight away after the game, apologised and is dealing with the consequences.. now MOVE ON people."