The NRL Match Review Committee has come under fire for some glaring inconsistencies regarding foul play in a confounding weekend of rugby league in Round 20.
Storm enforcer Nelson Asofa-Solomona escaped sanction for an elbow to the face of Warriors hooker Wayde Egan, while teammate Josh King went unpunished for a potential eye-gouge.
Meanwhile, Titans hooker Aaron Booth escaped sanction for a cannonball tackle on Raiders forward Joe Tapine, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves got away with a fine for a similar action to Asofa-Solomona’s, on Manly rookie Zac Fulton.
Stream every game of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free During Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
And Broncos lock Patrick Carrigan was neither sin-binned or sent off for a hip drop tackle that saw him referred directly to the Judiciary and has him facing a lengthy ban.
Foxsports.com.au breaks down the five incidents to point out the stunning inconsistency from the MRC.
Asofa-Solomona was placed on report for an elbow/forearm on Warriors hooker Wayde Egan, but was not charged by the match review committee.
The incident in the fourth minute of the Storm’s win over the Warriors saw the Asofa-Solomona come down hard on top of Egan’s jaw with his forearm and elbow.
The Warriors rake had to leave the field and there were fears such an action had the potential to result in a broken jaw.
Andrew Johns smoked at the MRC for failing to take action against Asofa-Solomona for an incident that he believed could have resulted in an on-field send-off.
“It’s laughable,” Johns said.
“I back the players all the time, but for me that’s a four-week suspension.
“Nothing for that, or even fine? That’s close to a send-off. I can’t believe it.”
Ryan Girdler accused the MRC of not taking the rules seriously in a stinging rebuke of the Asofa-Solomona decision.
“It was very avoidable as opposed to running the football rather than when you are the defender,” Girdler said on Triple M.
“We spoke about Dale Finucane and the onus needs to be on the defender and there needs to be a duty of care to the player with the ball, especially now we see so many people in tackles and technique and holding and so forth.
“That needs to be taken seriously by the players.
“But if you want to take it seriously then the match review committee need to take it seriously as well.
“Letting Nelson get off with that sends a sign out there to the players, that sort of behavior is OK and it’s not.”
It begs the question, would the Storm star, who has formed, have been suspended or even sent off had he broken Egan’s jaw?
Any player that now finds himself in a similar tackle will be bringing up this Asofa-Solomona incident as their main defense in the future and a dangerous precedent has now been set.
MORE NRL NEWS
TALKING PTS:Silver lining in Panthers’ Clearly nightmare; Bellamy’s big fear laid bare
TEAM TIPS: Kevvie’s Broncos headache amid star’s ban, Panthers’ new look halves
TRANSFER WHISPERS: Eels’ desperate call to land Manly star; Roosters’ rake switch
‘COULD NOT UNDERSTAND’: Manly’s crisis meeting as angry text messages revealed
Storm lock Josh King escaped sanction for a potential eye-gouge on Warriors forward Jazz Tevaga, despite being placed on report and penalized.
In fairness to King the action may have been accidental, but it came just a week after Bulldogs enforcer Corey Waddell copped a five week suspension for coming into contact with the eyes of Titans skipper Tino Fa’asuamaleaui.
In Waddell’s case there was no genuine proof of a gouging action, but he copped a monster ban for coming into contact with the eyes of an opponent.
Gorden Tallis and Greg Alexander believed that King would be in trouble, given the harsh reaction to the Waddell incident, even if it was incidental contact.
“I think it is minimal contact, but you can’t make contact with the eyes,” Tallis said.
“I don’t like it. Don’t go near the eyes.”
“Corey Waddell got five weeks for not even gouging someone,” Alexander added.
“In slow motion it doesn’t look good. His hand went over the top of the face and got somewhere in the eye vicinity so he could be in trouble.
King could have been given the opportunity to protest his innocence at the judiciary and may well have proven it, but the decision not to charge him a week after giving Waddell five weeks on the sidelines smacks of inconsistency.
Get all the latest NRL news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!!
Titans hooker Aaron Booth went unpunished by the MRC for a potential cannonball tackle on Raiders forward Joe Tapine.
The incident in the 32nd minute of the Titans 36-24 loss to the Raiders saw two Gold Coast players tackling Tapine before Booth came in late down around his legs from behind in a cannonball style tackle.
Tapine took issue with the tackle and the pair got into a scuffle, which resulted in the Raiders star being sent to the sin bin.
On his way to the sin bin Tapine questioned the tackle to the referee but Ben Cummins said the tackle was cleared.
The cannonball tackle is up there with the hip drop as one of the most dangerous tackles on a rugby league field for its ability to cause serious injury.
“Joe Tapine must have felt what he thought was a cannonball as Aaron Booth comes in right at the knees,” Matt Russell said.
“You have got to be above the knees. Quads or higher.”
While Booth may have initially hit Tapine on the hamstrings, the speed and force at which he came into the tackle from behind as the third man in, had the potential to cause Tapine a serious injury, which is why he was so angry.
Gorden Tallis told Triple M that he didn’t think Patrick Carrigan’s tackle “was as bad as some that I’ve seen this year” and brought up the Booth incident.
“So Aaron Booth, I have spears into the back (of Joe Tapine). Which one is worse in your eyes?,” he asked.
“I can’t believe he didn’t get reported,” Ben Dobbin said.
“It wasn’t even a penalty,” James Hooper added.
“Probably the one from the Titans game, it seemed to have more intent in the tackle,” James Graham added.
If the MRC are serious about stamping it out of the game, Booth should have at least been charged and given the opportunity to defend himself at the judiciary.
Failing to charge these incidents gives the players no deterrent to stop employing the cannonball tackle if they think they can get away with it on a technicality.
Broncos lock Patrick Carrigan is facing a lengthy suspension for his hip-drop tackle on Jackson Hastings after being referred directly to the judiciary.
Carrigan deserves to be suspended for the ugly tackle that broke Hastings’ leg and ruled him out for the season.
However, if the incident was deemed serious enough to refer Carrigan straight to the judiciary, why was he not sin-binned or sent off?
Nathan Cleary coped with a five week suspension after being sent off for an ugly lifting tackle on Dylan Brown.
If Carrigan is looking at a similar ban, the Tigers should have got the on-field advantage of having the Broncos reduced to 12 men for 10 minutes at least.
James Hooper believes Carrigan will miss the remainder of the regular season with a five week ban.
“In all likelihood the fact he’s been referred… I think Pat Carrigan is rubbed out for the rest of the season and he’s back for September,” Hooper said.
If Carrigan cops a five game ban, it is confounding how he wasn’t sent off for the tackle or at the very least sin-binned.
On the other hand Gorden Tallis questioned why Carrigan is potentially meeting the same fate as Waddell who is out for five weeks due to an eye-gouge.
“If you tell me that tackle is as bad as an eye gouge… if someone has their fingers around your eyes I’d bite their fingers off,” Tallis said.
It raised the question of Hastings’ injury playing a part in the punishment, which comes back to Asofa-Solomona potentially facing a ban had he broken Egan’s jaw.
The Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves escaped with a fine for an early guilty plea after being charged by the match review committee for a similar incident to Asofa-Solomona’s.
The Roosters star was penalized and placed on report for an elbow to the face of Manly rookie Zac Fulton while he was on the ground.
Waerea-Hargreaves’ punishment brings up two questions. Why was he not banned because a small fine is not a deterrent for these actions?
And given Asofa-Solomona’s incident is widely considered to be much worse than the Roosters star’s actions, why wasn’t the Storm forward charged by the MRC?
Referee Grant Atkins labeled Waerea-Hargreaves actions unacceptable.
“Jared can’t do what he did, that is unacceptable, that is why it is against you,” Atkins said.
But how can an unacceptable action on a rugby league field receive only a small $3000 fine.
Coupled with the Asofa-Soloma incident, a small fine for Waerea-Hargreaves and no punishment at all for the Storm forward offers no deterrent whatsoever for players who employ these grubby tactics.