O'Donnell gets 11 weeks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

O'Donnell gets 11 weeks

By Darren Walton 26/03/2003 10:10:24 PM Comments (0)

Wests Tigers will consider appealing after second-rower Luke O'Donnell earned himself the second longest suspension in the National Rugby League judiciary's six-year history.

O'Donnell was rubbed out for 11 matches for a strike that left Canberra halfback Michael Monaghan with a double fracture of his jaw.

And exhaustive and, at times, convoluted defence from Rob Weber SC failed to save the 22-year-old from being sidelined until Wests' round 15 clash with the Sydney Roosters at Campbelltown Stadium.

Judiciary commissioner Jim Hall had considered the tackle so serious he referred it straight to his three-man jury to administer punishment.

Hall compared the strike to two incidents last year - North Queensland forward Tim Maddison's strike on Roosters halfback Justin Holbrook and Parramatta centre David Vaealiki's on Newcastle's hooker Danny Buderus.

Maddison copped a 10-match ban for his troubles while Vaealiki received a five-game suspension.

"It was late, it was the use of a forearm to an unprotected player without possession of the ball, it was unnecessary. In my opinion, it was serious," Hall said of O"Donnell's blow.

More significantly, Hall instructed the three-man panel of Royce Ayliffe, Jeff Hardy and Ian Roberts to take into account the fact neither Holbrook or Buderus had been injured when they were victims of striking - and Monaghan clearly was, and quite seriously.

Weber showed video footage of Monaghan being involved in two subsequent tackles before leaving the field about a minute after O'Donnell's strike.

He said it was "impossible...on the balance of probability" for the panel to draw the conclusion that Monaghan had not suffered his jaw fractures while tackling Tigers forward Mark O'Neill 57 seconds after being struck by O'Donnell.

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