Penrith Panthers five-eighth, Jarome Luai, has received his punishment after being placed on report for a shoulder charge during the game. Luai collided with Melbourne Storm enforcer Nelson Asofa-Solomona in the 47th minute, resulting in a fiery exchange between the two NRL heavyweights. Upon reviewing the incident, the Match Review Committee charged Luai with a grade-one careless high tackle. However, the player may avoid suspension by accepting a $3000 fine with an early guilty plea.
After the match, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary described the incident in an intriguing manner, referring to Luai as a “little fly” and Asofa-Solomona as a “big giant.” Cleary shared his uncertainty about the situation during the post-match press conference, stating, “I’ve only seen the one angle. I’m not too sure. It’s a little fly against a big giant. I dunno. We’ll just wait and see.”
In the earlier match at Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast Titans prop Moeaki Fotuaika also faced disciplinary action. Fotuaika was sent off for making high contact to the head of Warriors fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, causing him discomfort and dazed movement. Referee Ben Cummins enforced Fotuaika’s exit from the field, leaving the Titans to play with only 12 men for 64 minutes. Fotuaika received a grade-two careless high-tackle charge from the NRL Match Review Committee. Accepting an early guilty plea will result in a one-match suspension, but fighting the charge and losing could lead to an additional week on the sidelines.
Titans interim coach Jim Lenihan expressed his disapproval of Fotuaika’s sending off, suggesting that a sin-bin punishment would have been sufficient. Lenihan stated, “I don’t think Moe is recklessly coming out of the ground. Moe is pretty much bracing. There might have been a bit of contact to the head, and 10 minutes (in the sin bin) was probably sufficient. I don’t know if it justifies at that point to ruin the game. It put us under a hell of a lot of pressure, and pretty much the game was over at that point.”
Lenihan also mentioned the lack of warning from the NRL about the crackdown, stating, “I didn’t hear anything. We had no warning on it.” Prior to round 23, only one player had been sent off this season, Jacob Saifiti in round two, leaving clubs unprepared for the strict penalties handed out recently.