A remorseful Epi Taione has apologised to his Sharks team-mates for a costly rush of blood to the head during the 13 -13 draw with the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.
The massive Tongan had been making a telling second-half impact as a substitute, having come on for flank Keegan Daniel when, at a ruck, he lunged head-first into substitute lock Jeremy Thrush in front of referee Paul Marks, who wasted no time in reaching for his red card write Mike Greenaway on IOL.
The Sharks played the last 14 minutes of the match with 14 men, and in the end were fortunate to hold on for the draw.
Taione will almost surely be suspended when he faces a disciplinary hearing in Christchurch on Monday, with the same panel hearing the case against Lions prop Ross Geldenhuys, who was cited for “use of the knee” during his team’s loss to the Highlanders, who are the Sharks’ opponents on Friday.
Sharks captain Johann Muller said the sincerely repentant Taione had asked to speak to the team during their post-match kontiki (the traditional post mortem-social).
“He is not a happy fellow,” Muller said. “He said he could not imagine a worse scenario than being sent off when he had only just joined us.”
On Sunday, a crestfallen Taione said: “I just got carried away. I was trying too hard. The coach had said at half-time that we had to start cleaning out the Hurricanes guys, who were coming over the top of the rucks to slow our ball down. And when I saw exactly that happening, I wanted to get the guy out of the way.
“The idea was not to harm the player, but the execution was reckless – I don’t deny that.”
Taione, a major Sharks off-season signing, joined the team late into the Super 14 because of commitments to his former Japanese club.
The explosive power of the 28-year-old is key to the Sharks’ plans, and they will be hoping that he will still have a role to play later in their five-match tour.
Taione will argue that he and the Sharks had already been punished by the sending-off, which probably cost them a win.Tweet