A furious South Sydney contingent stormed out of Rugby League Central without making comment after Greg Inglis was banned for three matches by the NRL judiciary.
Inglis was attempting to get his grade four dangerous contact charge reduced to a grade two following his shoulder charge on St George Illawarra lock Dean Young on Saturday.
However, the three-man panel of Michael Buettner, Chris McKenna and Mal Cochrane took just over 10 minutes to rule that the incident deserved a grade three punishment, ruling Inglis out until round 24 when Souths take on Cronulla.
Souths’ counsel Nick Ghabar argued that Inglis’ challenge was not worthy of such a high grading and used video footage of incidents involving Brisbane’s Ben Te’o and Canterbury’s Sam Kasiano that received grade two and grade one charges respectively.
Ghabar said Te’o’s shot on Wests Tigers’ prop Matt Groat in round six and Kasiano’s on Gold Coast’s Luke O’Dwyer in round 10 were worse than Inglis’, which saw Young leave the game on a medicab at ANZ Stadium.
He argued that Young was running in a sideways direction across the field looking for support and was side-on when Inglis initially ran towards him, and subsequently did not straighten in time to absorb the challenge.
‘‘Player Inglis is bracing for impact, there is no arm in the air, his feet are not off the ground and the aim of the tackle is attack the ball,’’ he said.
‘‘But the parameters changed in two-tenths of a second and it was careless but not reckless.’
‘‘There needs to be a far higher level of recklessness for a grade four.’
‘‘That charge is so far out of the ballpark it’s not true.’’
Peter Kite, for the NRL, argued that with the height difference between the two players and the fact Inglis attempted to hit above the ball carried a significant risk to Young.
‘‘Player Inglis is 195cm and player Young 184cm and he remained upright,’’ Kite said.
‘‘The only conclusion that can be reached is that Inglis is making contact high.
‘‘It was marginal tackle and hitting above the ball carries a risk and players have a duty to minimise the risk.
‘‘Young does not have a duty to protect his head and Inglis should have foreseen the risk. It was not careless, it was reckless.’’
In a long summing up, judiciary chairman Greg Woods urged the panel to disregard ‘‘unhelpful’’ comments made about the incident during the week from coaches and players.
He also said rugby league was ‘‘not gladiatorial and not cage fighting,’’ before asking the panel to make their decision.
Inglis, who was supported by a large contingent that included coach Michael Maguire, chief executive Shane Richardson, left the building without commenting after the verdict.
However, he Tweeted: ‘‘Thanks every1 for all your support .. unlucky result, got handed three weeks better than five weeks on the sidelines.’’
Earlier Te’o appeared for the second time this season where he successfully had his careless tackle on Gold Coast’s Luke Bailey reduced to a grade one offence.
He now avoids a one-match ban and will be free to face Parramatta at Suncorp Stadium on Monday.
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