Second row Iain Henderson will miss the remainder of Ireland’s Six Nations campaign after receiving a three-match ban for his red card against Ospreys in the Pro14.
The Ulster captain was sent off late in his side’s win last Saturday for a dangerous tackle.
Henderson started two of Ireland’s three Six Nations games earlier this year but will now miss the home fixture against Italy on 24 October and the final match against France a week later.
He did not play in February’s defeat by England due to family reasons, with Devin Toner coming in to partner James Ryan in the second row.
However Leinster’s Toner is not in head coach Andy Farrell’s squad for the remaining games, meaning one of Tadhg Beirne, Quinn Roux or Ultan Dillane will likely partner Ryan in Dublin a week on Saturday.
The loss of Henderson, one of Farrell’s most experienced campaigners, is a blow to Ireland, although he will return for the Autumn Nations Cup.
A Pro14 disciplinary panel noted that Henderson’s offence would usually carry a six-week suspension, but the Ulster skipper’s “clean disciplinary record, co-operation throughout the process and remorse shown warranted mitigation of fifty percent, bringing his ban to three weeks”.