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Hartley cited over 'biting' claim

ENGLAND hooker Dylan Hartley has been identified as the player alleged to have bitten Stephen Ferris's finger and has been cited.

The independent Six Nations Citing Commissioner for the England-Ireland match, Alberto Recaldini, from Italy, has cited the England player under IRB Law 10.4(m), "Acts contrary to good sportsmanship", for allegedly biting the finger of an opponent in the 23rd minute of the first half.

The player's hearing will be held by an independent Six Nations Disciplinary Committee, at a date to be confirmed.

The offence carries with it entry points of 12 weeks at the low end, 18 weeks at mid-range and 24+ weeks at the top end in the IRB sanctions table.

New Zealand-born Hartley served a 26-week ban for gouging in 2007 after being cited for making contact with the eye areas of three Wasps players - Jonny O'Connor, James Haskell and Joe Worsley - during an English Premiership game.

He pleaded not guilty on all three counts, but an RFU disciplinary panel found him guilty in relation to the Haskell and O'Connor incidents. He was cleared on the Worsley charge.

If Hartley is banned for this alleged transgression, he could easily be ruled out of England's three-Test tour to South Africa in June.