Gilbert given five-week ban for foul play

Sam Gilbert
Sam Gilbert
Highlanders utility back Sam Gilbert has copped a five-week ban for his dangerous tackle on Waratahs flanker Michael Hooper.

Gilbert pleaded guilty to the offence, and the Sanzaar Foul Play Review Committee last night handed down the suspension.

He will miss the rest of the Highlanders’ season, though the ban could turn out to be a rather light punishment if the Highlanders do not progress far in the playoffs.

Gilbert was shown a red card in the 28th minute of the game against the Waratahs at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Sunday for lifting Hooper off the ground and dropping him on to the turf.

Committee chairman Michael Heron QC ruled the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of 10 weeks due to the degree of recklessness and the danger posed to Hooper.

Mitigating factors, including Gilbert’s previously clean judicial record and his guilty plea, cut the ban in half.

Meanwhile, another Highlander has confirmed he will also not be seen again in the blue jersey.

It rather sneaked under the radar but midfield back Patelesio Tomkinson has signed a deal with a Welsh club.

"I am looking forward to heading over to Wales later in the year to join up with the Dragons," Tomkinson told the Dragons website recently.

"Since leaving school, I have been fortunate to be involved in professional rugby and played for two New Zealand teams.

"I have made some great friends and both teams mean a lot to me, but it’s time for a new chapter and I’m excited about taking this opportunity at the Dragons."

Tomkinson, who turns 26 on Friday, was a hard-running midfielder or wing who had a propensity to get into strife due to an uncompromising tackling technique but was a reliable performer at Super Rugby and NPC level.

He played 61 games (scoring 99 points) for Otago after making his debut in 2015, and earned 43 caps — with a decent strike rate of 14 tries — for the Highlanders from 2017 to 2021.

Tomkinson, from the Harbour club, began at Kavanagh College but finished at Otago Boys’ High School, from where he made New Zealand Schools in 2014. He was a New Zealand under-20 representative two years later.

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