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Cueto handed ban by Sale

England wing Mark Cueto has been banned by his club Sale Sharks for six weeks.

Sale's punishment follows his citing for making contact with the eye or eye area of Northampton lock Christian Day during an Aviva Premiership game at Franklin's Gardens last Saturday.

Cueto, a pivotal figure during England's recent RBS 6 Nations title-winning campaign, faces a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing on Monday.

The Sale suspension means that he will not play for his club again this season, as they have no chance of making the Premiership title play-offs.

And their hard-line stance suggests that Cueto might be in for a difficult evening when he faces RFU disciplinary chiefs in Haydock.

Even if the RFU decide Cueto's alleged offence was at the lower end of their punishment scale, he could land a 12-week ban. But that could rise to anything from 18 weeks to the maximum sanction of a three-year punishment.

Cueto's current England team-mate Dylan Hartley collected a six-month suspension in 2007 for gouging, and it is an offence the sport's disciplinarians have repeatedly vowed to crack down on.

A long-term absence from the game would threaten Cueto's participation for England in the World Cup, which kicks off in just five months' time.

Announcing his club suspension, Sale executive director of sport Steve Diamond said: "I have spoken to owner Brian Kennedy and the coaching staff, and we decided on this action.

"Mark let the club and his team-mates down, and he is very upset that he has done so. He will present himself at the disciplinary hearing on Monday evening, and hopefully he will learn from his actions."

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