NRL: Bulldog Corey Waddell banned for five games for eye gouge

NRL: Bulldog Corey Waddell banned for five games for eye gouge

Bulldogs back-rower Corey Waddell was found guilty of a reckless eye gouge at a marathon hearing at the judiciary on Tuesday night and was hit with a huge five match ban

The Canterbury forward, who gave his evidence via video-link, was incredulous when the verdict came through having declared he didn’t apply any pressure to the face of Gold Coast’s Tino Fa’asuamaleaui.

Waddell was referred straight to the judiciary on a dangerous contact charge after the incident during Sunday’s win at CommBank Stadium.

Fa’asuamaleaui made a complaint on the field to referee Ben Cummins but didn’t appear at the judicial hearing, which was questioned by Ghabar who said the Titans skipper may have fired up simply to earn his side a penalty.

Judiciary counsel Knowles said that there was an unwritten code among players that they wouldn’t give evidence against each other and argued that Waddell’s fingers ended up in a dangerous position and that the contact could have ruined not just someone’s career, but also their long- term health.

Knowles asked for a minimum ban of five matches after the judiciary panel deemed the contact reckless, claiming Waddell’s lack of contrition showed a lack of remorse or accountability.

Ghabar asked for a two-match penalty.

Waddell was adamant that the contact was incidental and that he was just trying to bring Fa’asuamaleaui to ground, pointing to the fact that his opponent had no scratches around the eye.

“I found my hand on his forehead,” Waddell said via video link.

“I didn’t apply any pressure whatsoever to his face and I tried to work on the tackle and get my hips in tight.”

The Bulldog’s ban came after Sharks skipper Dale Finucane said a dangerous precedent has been set after he was suspended for two games by the judiciary panel of Bob Lindner and Dallas Johnson of one of the most divisive tackles of the season.

Finucane was initially facing three games out but successfully had the charge downgraded to a grade two, which reduced the ban by one game.

He will now miss matches against the Rabbitohs and the Dragons.

“I was quite surprised with the outcome given it was an accidental offence,” he said.

“Given that our game hasn’t seen anything sanctioned before for accidental head contact, so I was optimistic coming in.

“I’m extremely disappointed with the outcome.

“I was disappointed with the outcome given it was an accidental offence. While I empathize with Stephen…it’s going to set a precedent moving forward.”

Finucane was hit with a grade three careless contact charge for his tackle on Stephen Crichton which left the Panthers center bleeding profusely, concussed and requiring plastic surgery to repair his damaged ear.

Crichton was not named for Penrith for their Round 20 game against Parramatta.

The panel found Finucane guilty but he immediately challenged the grading with Ghabar questioning the legitimacy of a medical report and the use of a photo of Crichton’s injury.

He said that while the image was graphic, the report was not serious because it only mentioned soft tissue damage to Crichton’s left ear.

“I didn’t think that the laceration would come into it,” Finucane said afterwards.

“Every week, players from other sides – myself included – have had a number of lacerations with bruises as a result of accidental head collisions. Moving forward now, they’re going to be sanctioning that now.”

Finucane, who was represented by Nick Ghabar, said he wasn’t hurt by the contact and that all he wanted to do was to put on a shot so he could reduce Crichton’s yardage so the Sharks could get the ball in good field position to try to win the game.

“I wouldn’t change what I did because it was a calculated decision in a football context,” Finucane said under cross-examination.

“It’s a competitive sport and we had to do everything to win the game. I wouldn’t change what I did in this scenario.”

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