Sharks end contract with Epi Taione after suspension


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The Sharks ended their contract with Tongan World Cup star Epi Taione, who is serving a six-week suspension for head-butting.

Sharks chief executive Brian van Zyl confirmed the termination with immediate effect, and said Taione was leaving Durban and heading to London in hope of latching on with an English rugby club.

“There was little point in him sitting around in Durban and serving out his suspension,” Van Zyl told The Witness in Thursday’s edition.

“His Sharks contract, in the end, did not cost us a great deal of money. We were paying him on a pro rata basis and he arrived late and left early.”

Taione didn’t join the Sharks until after the sixth round of the Super 14 in late March, once his commitments to Japanese club Sanyo Wild Knights were over.

He played for the Sharks for only a combined 25 minutes as a reserve against the Reds and the Hurricanes.

Against the latter on April 5, he was red-carded for head-butting Hurricanes player Jeremy Thrush.

A disciplinary hearing downgraded the act to “reckless,” but a previous 18-week ban for biting in England in 2006 was considered.

An appeal against the six-week ban was unsuccessful, leaving him unavailable until the playoffs, if the Sharks, second in the standings, made it.

“We are very sorry to see him go,” Van Zyl said. “He was popular with his Sharks teammates and he really enjoyed Durban. He made it clear that if he is needed again once his suspension is over, he would be happy to return.”

Van Zyl said Taione deserved to be suspended but not for six weeks, which he said was too harsh.

“He has paid heavily for his brief moment of madness,” Van Zyl said.

“There is no doubt that he is a talented player and a powerful ball-carrier with much to offer and perhaps we can get him back to Durban in the future.”

Sapa-AP –

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