Hawke’s Bay’s prop Sona Taumalolo has been suspended for three weeks after being cited in his team’s Ranfurly Shield defence on Sunday 8 November.

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The incident occurred late in the second half of the match against Wellington when 38-year-old Taumalolo deliberately striking an opposition player several times.

Duty Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton QC deemed his actions to be intentional and deliberate with a starting point sanction of six weeks.

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The sanction was reduced to three weeks on account of Taumalolo’s early admission of wrongdoing, expression of regret and a good judicial record over a long career.

Taumalolo will miss the remainder of the Mitre 10 Cup.

Taumalolo debuted for Hawke’s Bay in 2005 and was a massive part of their resurgence upon the Magpies re-joining the first division of NZ provincial rugby in 2006. He signed for the Chiefs in 2008 and spent five seasons with the Waikato-based side, propping up the scrum in the 2012 championship-winning season. Taumalolo was named in the RugbyPass Chiefs team of the decade earlier this year.

The Tongan international, who was originally set to retire from professional rugby in 2018 due to a spinal anomaly, had returned to Hawke’s Bay for the 2020 Mitre 10 Cup season.

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Tongan-born Taumalolo moved to New Zealand in 2001 as a 19-year-old. He amassed 45 games for the Magpies and a half-century for the Chiefs before heading to France where he represented Perpignan, Racing 92, Grenoble and Provence Rugby in Marseille.

Medical tests in 2018 indicated that Taumalolo could be at severe risk of injury due to cervical spine anomalies, which deterred Grenoble signing the now-38-year-old for any further seasons after spending three years with the club. Instead, Taumalolo headed south to Marseille and has spent the last 18 months with Provence Rugby, earning 31 caps in the process.

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