The Canberra Raiders have been served another blow, with Corey Horsburgh‘s suspension for four matches on the grounds of a guilty verdict for a shoulder charge. This decision comes on the heels of another setback for the team when Josh Papalii had to go through season-ending biceps surgery.
Able to state his defence in person at the League Central, Horsburgh faced accusations over a rampant shoulder charge on Corey Jensen of the Brisbane Broncos. The charge was executed in the 79th minute of Canberra’s match against the Broncos on Saturday, a game which ended in a 29-18 defeat for Canberra.
Originally, Horsburgh was at risk of a three-match suspension. However, an acquittal would have meant that he was available for the upcoming game against Cronulla this Sunday.
Expressing disappointment with the verdict, Horsburgh stated, “I’m obviously very disappointed with the result – I think four weeks is a bit much, but it is what it is.”
Sean Hampstead and Bob Lindner, the two-man judiciary panel, unanimously agreed on Horsburgh’s guilty verdict. The National Rugby League (NRL) provided evidence of a severe tackle, by demonstrating four necessary elements: forceful contact was made, the contact area was Horsburgh’s shoulder or upper arm, there was no attempt to wrap his arms around Jensen, and the tackle was of a reckless nature.
Detailed video analysis from eight different angles was put forward during the hearing, including footage-assisted evidence that Horsburgh’s arm was extended, and not alongside his body, when bracing for a shoulder charge.
Nick Ghabar, Horsburgh’s lawyer, argued that the initial contact was with Horsburgh’s “pectoral area” and insisted that he made continuous efforts to wrap his arms around Jensen. Ghabar also stressed that Horsburgh maintained a front-facing position throughout the incident.
Meanwhile, the NRL counsel Patrick Knowles claimed that Horsburgh’s tackle showed a “significant impact” and “significant force”. Moreover, this was not merely a glancing contact, and Horsburgh did not use his arms. The clenched fist further reinforced the argument that he had indeed not intended to use his arms.
In a show of solidarity, Simon Tayoun, a notable Raiders fan, was spotted outside League offices accompanied by his drum, popularized in the club’s Viking clap sequence.
Prior to the hearing, Raiders‘ captain Elliott Whitehead commented on the impactful role Horsburgh has played this season and his importance to the team given the Papalii’s injury. Whitehead stated, “He’s been massive for us all year, that’s why he played Origin this year, he’s played a pivotal role for us in the middle and hopefully he gets off – they wouldn’t have gone to the judiciary if they didn’t think they had a chance of getting him off.”
In the upcoming game, Horsburgh was set to go head-to-head with Sharks forward Royce Hunt, the latter having previously called him a “weak-gutted dog” post an on-field incident during their last encounter.