The England prop Kyle Sinckler will miss the November rugby internationals against Argentina and Australia after being handed a seven-week suspension by the RFU for eye gouging.
Sinckler has accepted the charge after being cited for making contact with the eye and/or eye area of Saints' lock Michael Paterson in Harlequins' Premiership game at Northampton at the weekend.
"... I am sorry that I have let my team mates down, but more importantly I feel terrible that anyone would think I would deliberately gouge an opponent," Sinckler said on his club's website.
"That was never my intention - it was a genuine mistake and an act of recklessness on my part."
The 24-year-old British and Irish Lions forward received an on-field warning and conceded a penalty after the second-half incident was reviewed by the TV match official at the time.
Referee Luke Pearce decided the replay footage was inconclusive and only punished Sinckler, England's second choice tighthead for the autumn campaign starting against the Argentines on November 11th, for removing Paterson's scrum cap.
"The panel heard evidence from the player as to his actions. They found that it was an intentional action but that due to the absence of injury it merited a low end entry point," disciplinary panel chairman Dan White said.
"The player has not got a clear record because of a suspension in 2015 and so the panel could not give full mitigation. The player will therefore be suspended for seven weeks and is free to play again on the 21 November 2017."
There is a minimum four-week ban for contact with the eye area while contact with the eye brings a minimum 12-week ban.
Sinckler, who will be available to play against Samoa on November 25, was warned over his conduct by England coach Eddie Jones after this year's Lions tour and was omitted from the national team's most recent training squad.