Manly, Melbourne assess NRL prospects - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly, Melbourne assess NRL prospects

By David Beniuk and Liam Fitzgibbon 29/08/2011 07:34:19 PM Comments (0)

Manly and Melbourne are assessing the damage to their NRL premiership campaigns after a total of 10 players were charged over Friday night's ugly Brookvale Oval brawl.

Five players from each club were charged by the match review committee, which elected to refer chief combatants Glenn Stewart and Adam Blair straight to a judiciary hearing on Wednesday night.

Their finals campaign is as good as over after the committee found the top contrary conduct charge, grade five equating to a five-week ban, wasn't sufficient punishment for the fight that erupted as Stewart and Blair walked to the sin bin.

Blair faces a separate grade two striking charge which is likely to rub him out for an extra two weeks and affect the start of his stint with new club Wests Tigers next year.

With early guilty pleas taken into account, seven of the 10 will be missing from this weekend's action, which could yet determine the minor premiership.

As well as Stewart, the Sea Eagles are likely to be without young prop Darcy Lussick, fullback Brett Stewart and five-eighth Kieran Foran for Sunday's sell-out farewell to Brisbane captain Darren Lockyer at Suncorp Stadium.

Brett Stewart may have missed the game anyway with a knee injury, while Foran's rest could even be a blessing in disguise for a club that has almost certainly locked up a top-two finish.

The Storm can add winger Sisa Waqa and forward Sika Manu to Blair's unavailability for Sunday night's clash with the Sydney Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium.

A big Sea Eagles win over the Broncos, though unlikely, could mean Melbourne needing victory over the Roosters to finish first.

Apart from Glenn Stewart and Blair, Lussick is the big loser and will be sidelined for three games with the early plea or four with an unsuccessful challenge at the judiciary.

The 22-year-old received a grade four contrary conduct charge, the highest after Stewart and Blair's ungraded offences.

As well as the unprecedented number of charges, both clubs were slapped with $50,000 fines for the brawl, which involved most of the players and even the benches.

"It's certainly a throwback to the past," NRL boss David Gallop said.

"The game is cleaner than it's ever been, we've got a judiciary system that has been copied by our competitor codes.

"They'll deal with the issues and the individuals but it's important today to make the point that the clubs have a collective responsibility to protect the image of the game.

"Families, fans corporate partners that associate themselves with our brand don't want to be associated with ugly brawls like that."

Glenn Stewart and Blair are vital members of their sides' respective forward packs.

Stewart and Lussick's absences will compound the Sea Eagles' loss for the season of prop and co-captain Jason King, while Blair is the starch in a Storm pack patched together after last year's salary cap scandal.

Gallop said it would be disappointing for big names to be missing the finals.

"But that doesn't mean these things shouldn't be dealt with appropriately and the right message is sent no matter what time of the season it is," he added.

Manly said they would consider appealing the fine after they take legal advice.

"The club will handle the charges against the players for contrary conduct in the normal manner," Sea Eagles chairman Scott Penn said in a statement.

"The fine to the club is disappointing and we will need to look at seeking external advice on the merit of the fine.

"We would not rule out an appeal."

Storm chief executive Ron Gauci will front the media on Tuesday morning after the club conducted its own review of the incident.

The fallout from the fight included a direction to referees to not send subsequent players from the field until the previous player has crossed the sideline.

It will then be the club's responsibility to escort that player to their dressing room.

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