The Reds will have to take on the Sharks in their play-off this weekend without flyhalf Quade Cooper who has been handed a one-week ban.
The Wallaby playmaker was cited for a dangerous tackle on Waratahs inside centre Berrick Barnes in their clash on Saturday which saw him shown a yellow card, and confirmed the ban after his hearing on Monday via Twitter.
"Thank you for the concern & support! Our team has worked very hard.. The outcome is a week suspension. I have faith in my team & team mates," he said.
This rules him out of the Reds' play-off match against the Sharks in Brisbane on Saturday, which will come as a big blow to the defending champions who only snuck into the knock-out stage of the competition with their bonus-point victory over the Waratahs.
The SANZAR judicial hearing held via video conference under Paul Tully found that Cooper contravened Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous Tackling when he made contact with Barnes' chest and neck.
Tully explained: "Whilst in the process of a tackle on Berrick Barnes, there was principle contact with the chest but also with the neck such as to make the tackle dangerous in contravention of Law 10.4 (e).
"Mr Cooper's record is unblemished save for a two-week suspension in 2010. He has played Super Rugby for the past six years as well as a significant number of Test matches for Australia during this time.
"It is also a matter of significance that the SANZAR rules allow consideration be given to the importance of games to be played during the Super Rugby Finals Series and as such, this has been taken into account as a mitigating circumstance.
"It follows that Quade Cooper is suspended from all forms of rugby for one week up to and including the 21st of July 2012," he added.
Cooper spoke to the media after the hearing and said he trusts his teammates to get the job done against the Sharks.
"It was something I certainly didn't want to hear, I was looking forward to playing the Qualifying Final this weekend.
"I'm pretty disappointed but I have total faith in my teammates and our game plan and believe they'll get the job done," he said.
This leaves Ben Lucas and Mike Harris as the likely contenders for the No.10 jersey, which was something of a revolving door earlier in the season when Cooper was still recovering from injury.
Both Lucas and Harris left the field injured in the Reds' 27-22 loss to the Sharks in Durban earlier in the season which put the Queensland side under serious pressure in the position.
Harris has had more game-time this season but has settled well at inside centre so coach Ewan McKenzie may well opt to choose Lucas who has earned the majority of his Super Rugby caps off the bench.