Kiwi rake to defend NRL striking charge - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kiwi rake to defend NRL striking charge

05/05/2009 05:10:24 PM Comments (0)

Australian hooker Cameron Smith knows what it's like to be rubbed out of a vital rugby league match by the judiciary but that doesn't mean he'll go to bat for anxious New Zealand counterpart Issac Luke.

While Luke will defend a striking charge on Wednesday that will leave him out of Friday's Anzac Test if unsuccessful, Smith has already felt the pain of an untimely suspension, missing last year's grand final because of grapple tackle.

Luke, a key member of the Kiwis stunning World Cup triumph last November, will break camp in Brisbane on Wednesday to fly to Sydney to fight the grade one charge sustained against Gold Coast Test forward Anthony Laffranchi on Saturday.

Smith was reluctant to talk about Luke's plight or the fairness of him missing a Test on such a low grade charge after his own comments last year whipped up a storm and landed him in hot water with officials.

"I've had some personal experience there," said the Storm star when asked about Luke's situation.

"It's hard (for me) to comment because there was a lot of comments last time made about this sort of stuff and everything got blown out of proportion.

"The system is in place to look after these things and it's not for me or any players or coaches to comment on whether players should miss a Test or an Origin or a grand final because of a charge.

"The rules are in place and I guess if you can get suspended during the season you may as well get suspended no matter what time of the year it is.

Under the current rules, Test matches along with Origins and grand finals count in any suspensions incurred by players in the NRL which many believe is too harsh.

"It's difficult for anyone. I said after I got suspended (last year) I wouldn't wish that same situation on anyone coming into a big match," said Smith, lining up for his 14th Test.

Luke couldn't even find an ally in Laffranchi, even though the Titans forward agreed there was little in the second half tackle which didn't even warrant a penalty.

"It's in the hands of the judiciary, it's not my call to make," said Laffranchi when asked whether he felt the incident was worth missing a Test over.

"It's a Test match. I'm not in his situation but you want to play every Test match you're selected in."

Luke's NRL club Souths have employed their legal eagle and defence specialist Geoff Bellew who after viewing video of the incident felt he could prepare a strong defence.

Bellew is in hot form having mounted successful defence cases for Cronulla and Kangaroos forward Paul Gallen (high tackle) and Bulldogs hooker Michael Ennis who escaped a chicken wing charge.

The Kiwis, who have already lost hard running forward Frank Pritchard, on Monday flew Tigers utility Dean Halatau to Brisbane on Tuesday as insurance.

Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney said he had only caught a glimpse of the incident but said: "there didn't seem too much in it".

"Issac's good, he's focused on the Test and what will be, will be."

"Issac is a very handy player but we're very comfortable with flying Dean up if we need him."

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