Highlanders centre suspended for three weeks

Tanielu Tele’a's high shot on Quinn Tupaea of the Chiefs on Saturday in Hamilton. Photo: Getty...
Tanielu Tele’a's high shot on Quinn Tupaea of the Chiefs on Saturday in Hamilton. Photo: Getty Images
Highlanders centre Tanielu Tele’a has been suspended for three weeks following his red card in the game against Chiefs.

The ban may be reduced by a week if he goes through the process commonly known as "tackle school".

Tele’a was handed a yellow card, later upgraded to red, after charging into a maul and making contact with Chiefs midfielder Quinn Tupaea in the 69th minute of the game in Hamilton.

He pleaded guilty when he fronted the Sanzaar Foul Play Review Committee on Monday night.

Chairman Stephen Hardy ruled Tele’a’s actions were "reckless" and included direct head contact with his shoulder.

"There was no sudden or significant change in height or direction . . . to result in mitigation sufficient to downgrade the incident to a yellow card."

The entry point for the offence was six weeks but Tele’a was given a discount for an early guilty plea and other mitigating factors, so the suspension was reduced to three weeks.

It is likely the ban will drop to two weeks as he can easily go through the World Rugby coaching intervention process.

At this stage, Tele’a will miss the Highlanders’ home game against the Hurricanes on Saturday, and both their games in Australia (Rebels on April 13, Reds on April 19) that follow their bye week.

Tele’a, a newcomer to the squad this year after an injury-plagued time with the Blues, has been a fine performer for the Highlanders this season.

His absence will mean an opportunity for either Josh Timu, who just made his comeback to the Highlanders’ development team after a year out with injury, Matt Whaanga or Jake Te Hiwi.