Storm lock pays heavy price for ‘hip drop’ tackle
Melbourne forward Max King's season could be over after he copped a three-week ban for his "hip drop" tackle on St George Illawarra prop Blake Lawrie.
King was sent directing to the judiciary for one of the ugliest tackles of the season in Melbourne's 30-22 loss to the Dragons last Sunday afternoon.
King won't be eligible to play until the grand final, although if the Storm defeat Parramatta on Saturday night, they'll earn a week off and King's season will be over.
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Appearing live via video link, King immediately admitted guilt to the elements of the offence and did not argue his case in front of the panel.
The case was immediately fast-forwarded to the penalty with the panel deeming a three-week ban was sufficient.
If he hadn't taken the guilty plea, he would've copped 500 demerit points, resulting in a five-match suspension.
NRL council Peter McGrath said he didn't believe King intended to injure Lawrie in the tackle, however claimed the Storm forward acted highly recklessly and was aware of what he was doing.
McGrath said King placed Lawrie in an extremely risky position and could've caused serious injury. He also claimed King had a number of other options and could've pulled out of the tackle at any time.
King's lawyer, Nick Ghabar, claimed the tackle was far from malicious and there was no intent to injure, however conceded his player made a "highly careless" error in judgment.
There's no surprise the forward copped a lengthy ban after a number of league legends slammed the tackle.
Fox League commentator Greg Alexander even suggested there was "an intent to injure" - an allegation that drew the ire of Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
"That's ridiculous. That is ridiculous. I would be very disappointed if any player in the competition goes out to intentionally injure an opposition player," Bellamy said when Alexander's statement was put to him after the match.
Although King isn't a household name, his suspension is a blow for the Storm on the eve of the finals.
Bulldogs eye-gouger hit with monster ban
Bulldogs enforcer Luke Thompson will miss the opening four weeks of the 2021 season after being found guilty of a careless eye gouge on Penrith skipper James Tamou.
Thompson was sent directly to the judiciary on Tuesday night for an eye gouge during Canterbury's 42-0 loss to the Panthers last Saturday afternoon.
It took 167 minutes for the judiciary to find Thompson guilty, with the three-man panel of Ben Creagh, Bob Lindner and Sean Garlick claiming the Bulldogs forward acted carelessly.
Not even Tamou admitting to lying about his on-field complaint was able to clear Thompson's name.
The Panthers captain, who is preparing for Friday night's qualifying final against the Roosters, was willing to put his integrity under a microscope, claiming he only made an on-field complaint to referee Henry Perenara to get a penalty.
"I felt something around the face, so I thought I'd make a claim so the referee would give us a penalty," Tamou said via a live video link.
"At the time I was hoping for a penalty, but I don't think it was an eye gouge.
"If I thought Luke would go into the next game with the intent to do some damage, I wouldn't be here tonight … I don't believe he had any intent to injure me."
NRL council Peter McGrath argued the Bulldogs forward knew what he was doing as he placed his fingers on Tamou's eyes.
Thompson was adamant he didn't deliberately touch the face of the Penrith captain, but the panel did not agree.
"I'm very disappointed," Thompson said after the case.
"It wasn't my intention to eye gouge - or whatever they've accused me of - I was trying to win the tackle and take him to the ground. I'm a bit confused. I'm disappointed.
"I wasn't even aware of what (Tamou) was complaining about. I was trying to get over (Tamou's) shoulder … I didn't realise I was touching his face."
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Thompson admits he's worried the guilty verdict will damage his reputation in the NRL.
"That's why it's upsetting and disappointing, but it is what it is. I've got to move on," he said.
Although the Bulldogs forward was found guilty, the panel found his actions were on the lower end of the scale.
Thompson won't be free to play until the Bulldogs' Round 5 match next season, which is a massive blow for the club that enters a new era under the coaching of Trent Barrett.
The Englishman, who joined the Bulldogs from St Helens this year, will be aiming for a more consistent 2021 season after struggling to adapt to the NRL this year.
Originally published as Storm lock pays heavy price for 'hip drop' tackle