Changes need to be made to Otago midfielder Sio Tomkinson’s tackle technique is he is to avoid further disciplinary issues in the future.
That’s the verdict from two Mitre 10 Cup stars in the wake of Tomkinson’s red card offence for a dangerous high tackle on Auckland first-five Simon Hickey in Dunedin on Saturday.
The 24-year-old was sent from the field in injury time for an explosive hit on Hickey that saw his shoulder land on the the veteran playmaker’s head during Otago’s 38-6 defeat at the hands of Auckland at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
The impact of Tomkinson’s tackle forced Hickey from the field, and the results of a judiciary hearing released on Tuesday found the tackle to be reckless due to the direct contact to Hickey’s head.
Tomkinson has subsequently been suspended for six weeks, with his immediate admission of wrongdoing and expression of remorse preventing him for being sidelined for 10 weeks, which was ruled to be the entry point of the sanction.
Although he will miss Otago’s matches against Manawatu, Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Counties Manukau and Northland, injured North Harbour hooker James Parsons believes an adjustment to Tomkinson’s tackle technique needs to be made to avoid further implications in the future.
Speaking to the Aotearoa Rugby Pod, Parsons pointed to Tomkinson’s unfavourable disciplinary track record that had already seen him pick up two yellow cards for dangerous tackles with the Highlanders in Super Rugby before last weekend’s dismissal.
In February, Tomkinson was handed a yellow card when his shoulder collided with Tom Banks’ head during the Highlanders’ 23-22 win over the Brumbies, but a SANZAAR review led to a three-week suspension after it was deemed to be worthy of a red card.
Six months later, Tomkinson was again in the firing line for an off-the-ball shoulder charge on Crusaders prop Oli Jager during a 32-22 Super Rugby Aotearoa defeat in August.
Tomkinson, who was named in the South Island squad for this month’s North v South clash but didn’t take to the field in his side’s 38-35 victory in Wellington, was subsequently yellow carded, while Jager required hospitalisation.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 15, 2020
Neither infringements were Tomkinson’s first brushes with the law, as he was sent off in the Highlanders’ season-opening clash with the Chiefs last year for a dangerous tackle on Brodie Retallick, although that red card was later rescinded by SANZAAR.
“We’ve actually spoken about it on here before. I think it was when he hit Oli Jager in the Crusaders game,” Parsons told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod of Tomkinson’s discipline issues.
“There does need to be an adjustment, and I know they’ve come out and said there’s an attempt to adjust his technique and stuff, but I think that is pretty reckless.”
Parsons made note of comments made by Auckland midfielder Rieko Ioane post-match, whereby he labelled Tomkinson’s tackle on Hickey as a “cheap shot”.
“I think if you refer to Rieko’s comments after the game, it obviously wasn’t well-received by the Auckland boys either,” Parsons said.
“I think he’s [Tomkinson] well aware of it, but there needs to be a pretty big shift in his technique.
“He just needs to drop his height. I think his tackle technique’s fine, it’s just his where he’s hitting people.
“He had that one earlier this year against Tom Banks and the Brumbies as well, so it’s definitely something that needs to be rectified.”
Parsons, who has been ruled out of North Harbour’s provincial campaign due to concussion, added that something needs to change if Tomkinson is to stay out of trouble moving forward.
“For me, I suppose, with concussion issues, something does need to shift, or a punishment more severe that is going to bring about a change because you can’t just keep going to the judiciary and getting so many weeks and then it happening again.”
Parsons’ North Harbour teammate Bryn Hall described the indiscretion as “unfortunate”, but told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod that a harsh punishment is a necessity if Tomkinson is to eradicate ill-discipline from his game.
“I definitely reckon there’s no malice behind it, it’s just unfortunate. That tackle technique, he’s going to have to change it,” Hall said.
“He’s probably going to miss a few weeks, but then you think about a big game as well, you just don’t want those kinds of things happening where it can be a detriment to your team.
“Definitely know he’s not a dirty guy, but I think that needs to be sorted out for the future so he can help himself as well.”
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