Patelesio Tomkinson will miss six matches of Otago’s Mitre 10 Cup campaign following a dangerous tackle made by the midfielder on Auckland’s Simon Hickey during their Saturday afternoon match.

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Tomkinson led with his shoulder as he collided with Hickey’s head in the 81st minute of the match. The Highlanders centre was promptly sent off for the tackle and the game ended shortly thereafter, 38-6 in Auckland’s favour.

Tomkinson has built a reputation as a fierce defender but his aggression has too often seen the midfielder on the receiving end of penalty calls.

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In 2019, Tomkinson was handed a red card for a dangerous tackle on Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick. While the SANZAAR judiciary struck the card from the record, Tomkinson’s tackled was at the very least worthy of a yellow card.

More recently, Tomkinson spent 10 minutes in the bin in the Highlanders’ win over the Brumbies earlier this year for a dangerous shot on Tom Banks. That yellow card was upgraded to a three-week suspension following the match.

Barely a month ago, Tomkinson’s off the ball hit on Crusaders prop Oli Jager sent the prop to hospital. While Crusaders coach Scott Robertson thought Tomkinson’s actions warranted a red card, the midfielder was only shown yellow.

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Following Saturday’s match, All Blacks and Auckland star Rieko Ioane labelled Tomkinson’s last-minute tackle on Hickey as a “cheap shot”.

“You never want to go out to hurt anyone in the other team, and you never want to intentionally do that,” Ioane told Stuff after the win. “Whether he [Tomkinson] did… I’m sort of going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t, but in the end it looked quite bad.

“He’s a hard hitter, he always has been since he went to school, and he just needs to drop his hips.”

Following the erroneous sending off against the Chiefs last year, Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger defended the now-24-year-old midfielder.

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“He’s actually a pretty softly-spoken guy, and pretty gentle, but as soon as he crosses the chalk, he’s certainly got that ruthless mindset about him.

“[He’s] not too dissimilar to Brian Lima, who’s also a Highlanders legend, so there’s a bit of Brian Lima in Sio’s mindset around the tackle.”

Tomkinson’s latest six-week suspension means he’ll miss Otago’s matches against Manawatu, Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Counties Manukau and Northland.

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