Faumuina suspended for seven NRL matches - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Faumuina suspended for seven NRL matches

By Todd Balym 15/08/2007 08:54:40 PM Comments (0)

North Queensland's premiership hopes have been dealt a savage blow by the NRL Judiciary with lock Sione Faumuina suspended for the rest of the season after being found guilty of a reckless high tackle.

Faumuina was suspended for seven games after the judiciary deemed his tackle on Penrith's Luke Priddis to be worthy of a reckless and not careless grading as the Cowboys tried to argue.

He will not be available to play again this year, even if the fourth-placed Cowboys manage to reach the grand final.

The loss of Faumuina is a huge blow to North Queensland's finals campaign as they are already without injured stars Luke O'Donnell (hamstring) and Shane Tronc (knee), while Steve Southern is also expected to be sidelined after dislocating his shoulder on Monday.

"It is a tough knock for the team and a tough knock for Sione," said club chief executive Peter Parr.

"He is obviously devastated by the decision and we need to give him some support now and accept the verdict.

"We have to put our best foot forward now for the team and look forward to the finals."

The Cowboys could have accepted a five-week ban by entering an early guilty plea to the reckless charge before noon on Wednesday, but opted to plead not guilty and attempt to get it downgraded to a less severe careless grading and shorter suspension.

They argued Faumuina's tackle was careless because his swinging arm had elevated dramatically towards the Penrith player's head after making initial contact with the football.

The Cowboys, represented by football manager Kelly Egan and with assistant coach Alan Taylor providing 'expert' evidence with his degree in Sport and Exercise Science, presented several digitally enhanced camera angles to try to illustrate Faumuina's innocence in making contact with the head of Priddis.

Taylor said the two players who had originally tackled Priddis had lifted and rotated the hooker, leaving Faumuina just 0.16 seconds to change his point of target.

Instead of striking Priddis in the chest and completing a "ball and all tackle", they claimed he struck the football and his arm "deflected drastically" towards the head of Priddis.

But judiciary prosecutor Peter Kite argued Faumuina would have still struck the head of Priddis regardless of the football and that he made no attempt to avoid making the high contact.

After a 70 minute hearing, in which Faumuina did not address the panel, the judiciary panel of Mal Cochrane, Don McKinnon and Darrell Williams took less than 15 minutes to return a guilty verdict.

The Cowboys were given an option to contest the severity of the reckless tackle charge and fight for a six-week ban but declined the offer.

Parr told the panel he was "stunned" at the result, while Faumuina showed absolutely no emotion upon hearing his suspension.

"It is very disappointing. We were very confident and I thought we had a good case," said Parr.

"Obviously the panel thought that despite striking the ball he would have hit him in the head."

North Queensland will continue their NRL season when they host St George Illawarra at Dairy Farmers Stadium this Saturday night.

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