'Overweight' prop pinged on driving offence
An aspiring All Black drove despite being disqualified because he needed to get to training.
Benjamin Charles Tameifuna, appeared in the Hastings District Court this morning, on two charges of driving while disqualified.
The Chiefs prop pleaded guilty to driving on September 13 and October 25.
Tameifuna 21, was suspended from driving last year when he lost too many demerit points.
The latest two charges come after Tameifuna was caught driving when he should not have been, twice before.
Tameifuna was part of the Chiefs Super Rugby winning team this year and has been named in the 2013 squad.
He trained with the All Blacks in the lead-up to the three tests against Ireland. At 138kg, he weighed in as the heaviest in the international training squad, however, he never took the field.
Last month, Tameifuna was dropped from the Hawke's Bay Magpies front row because he was thought to be overweight.
His lawyer Roger Philip said Tameifuna disobeyed court orders on September 13 because he needed to get to rugby training and work on his fitness.
Tameifuna drove the second time because he was on his way to get his car de-registered.
Philip said Tameifuna was a promising young man who had the support of the rugby fraternity.
The Chief’s franchise wanted the prop back and had developed a plan to address his performance both on and off the field.
Judge Richard Watson said while Tameifuna breached a court order, he had not been caught speeding or driving recklessly.
Judge Watson was impressed with a submission from Chief’s assistant coach Tom Coventry, who had known Tameifuna for some time and had ‘‘wonderful insight’’ into his background which he said was ‘‘not as privileged as some’’.
Judge Watson sentenced Tameifuna to 50 hours community work and disqualified him from driving for nine months.
Judge Watson hoped Tameifuna would use his community work to talk to and inspire young rugby players.
Outside of court, Coventry said Tameifuna could not comment while he was facing a misconduct charge under the New Zealand Rugby Union. The misconduct charge relates to Tameifuna’s driving offences.