By Martin Gabor , National Correspondent , NRL.com
Tyson Frizell will miss his side’s game against the Brisbane Broncos after being found guilty at the judiciary on Tuesday night of his contrary conduct – contact with a match official charge.
The St George Illawarra Dragons back-rower was cited for making contact with referee Chris James in the fourth minute of last week’s 13-10 loss to the Bulldogs and will miss one week as a result of the guilty verdict.
Judiciary Counsel Peter McGrath used two angles to argue that Frizell’s conduct was contrary to the spirit of the game, and deemed the contact ‘avoidable’ and ‘unnecessary’ rather than ‘accidental’ or ‘incidental’.
Given the incident occurred early in the game, Mr McGrath argued that fatigue played no part in Frizell’s decision-making process and that he didn’t “exercise care” by attempting to walk where the referee was already standing.
Defence Counsel Nick Ghabar argued that Frizell was unsighted at the time given he was on the ground and not looking straight ahead towards the match official.
He also suggested the close proximity between Bulldogs centre Josh Morris, Frizell and referee James around the play the ball influenced the contact as neither party could avoid the contact.
Most importantly, he argued the referee initiated the contact with his right arm and that Frizell’s subsequent movement was nothing more than a reflex action.
However, the three-man panel of Chris McKenna, Mal Cochrane and Sean Garlick agreed with Mr McGrath’s case, deeming the contact careless enough to warrant a one-game ban.
The NSW Blues star was naturally upset with the verdict but conceded the new interpretations of the rule meant he was always at risk of being rubbed out.
“I’m pretty disappointed about the outcome of what happened,” Frizell said.
“I guess they see it as black and white, and any contact with the referee will give you a week on the sideline.”
McGrath, McKenna, Cochrane and Garlick should hang their heads in shame after this. What’s the game coming to? I’m all for protecting referees, but how were Frizell’s actions “contrary to the spirit of the game”? Why don’t they have a look at defending players who get into the face of the ref while he is trying to sum up whether he should award a try or refer to the bunker - that’s intimidation. And don’t get me started on Reynolds escaping suspension for yet another trip.