Broncos forward Patrick Carrigan has been suspended for four matches after he was found guilty of making dangerous contact in an ugly hip-drop tackle that fractured Jackson Hastings’ right fibula and damaged his syndesmosis during Saturday evening’s game at Suncorp Stadium.
Carrigan was referred straight to the judiciary for the tackle that Hastings has seen wiped out for the rest of the season.
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Hastings writhed in agony after he was held up by Broncos pair Cory Paix and Keenan Palasia, before Carrigan leant his weight to the tackle around the hips and landed on his opponent’s right foot.
Post-match, Tigers interim coach Brett Kimmorley called the tackle “horrendous.”
On a dramatic night at the judiciary, the NRL’s lawyer had asked for a ban of five to six matches to make an example of Carrigan while defense counsel Nick Ghabar had pushed for two weeks.
The panel of Dallas Johnson and Henry Perenara reached a unanimous decision that Carrigan’s actions had put Hastings in a vulnerable decision and that the penalty would act as a deterrent to other players.
“I’m very grateful to Nick and the NRL for a fair hearing,” Carrigan said.
“I’m a little bit disappointed with the result.
“I certainly didn’t have any attempt or malice in what happened, but I’m also aware that Jackson is going to miss a bit of footy. I wish him all the best with his recovery from him.
“My focus is to be as supportive as I can for the Broncos for the next four weeks.”
The Wally Lewis Medal winner from State of Origin made the trip to Sydney but didn’t give evidence at the hearing.
Instead, five angles of Carrigan’s tackle and a similar tackle by Dragons forward Josh McGuire against the Storm in Round 10 last year were used primarily during the case.
McGuire was hit with a grade three charge under the game’s old judicial code and was banned for five matches, although he did have carry-over points which added to his penalty.
The tackle on Melbourne’s Josh Addo-Carr did not result in serious injury, although the winger was forced from the field for seven minutes.
NRL judicial counsel Patrick Knowles referred to a memo sent by NRL head of football Graham Annesley to all 16 clubs on July 21, 2020 where he warned players about the hip-drop tackle that had started to creep into the game.
Knowles said that Carrigan’s tackle had all the same “hallmarks” and that it involved the dropping of weight from the hips and the trapping and twisting Hastings’ legs which created an obvious risk of injury.
Knowles asked the judiciary panel to suspend Carrigan for five to six games, pointing to the fact that Hastings required surgery to insert a plate and screws and that he would miss three to five months of footy as a result.
While he didn’t want “eye for an eye” retribution, he argued that Carrigan’s high level of force and carelessness should be punished severely.
Ghabar said his client only served a two-week ban given he showed contrition, had done everything in his power to actually limit the risk of injury on Saturday night and had only been charged twice during his 62-game career.
He pointed to a medical report from a third-party doctor that said the injury was exacerbated by the other tacklers pushing from the top, which twisted Hastings into a dangerous position and added weight to the tackle.
Ghabar said that it was a lot different to McGuire who landed directly on Addo-Carr’s foot and argued that the Dragons forward was reckless and that his actions bordered on intentional.
He went further, saying there were “mitigating factors” from the other two tacklers who twisted Hastings into a dangerous position while Carrigan actually “arched his back” to relive pressure on the foot.
Carrigan will be free to return in Round 25 when the Broncos play the Dragons.