BY CURTIS WOODWARD – EDITOR
Channel Nine’s Brad Fittler sat down next to a relieved Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in the Sydney Cricket Ground dressing rooms just after the Sydney Roosters big win over arch rivals South Sydney last Friday.
Fittler first asked JWH about his visit to the judiciary during the week where he was eventually cleared of foul play after a tackle on Rabbitoh Liam Knight went wrong in round 25. Knight fell into the tackle with Waerea-Hargreaves doing his best to brace for the collision without inflicting any additional pain. JWH was pardoned and free to play the Bunnies for a second consecutive week.
The cameras zoomed in – Fittler whimsically brought up a minor incident involving Waerea-Hargreaves and James Roberts. JWH’s face tightened just a little. His big grin now ever so forced. He answered Fittler with a question and asked what the Blues coach thought. A ball of sweat rolled down over the big Kiwi’s brow.
There really was nothing in it.
The fleet-footed Roberts cut back across field and beat the much larger Hargreaves on the inside. JWH stuck out his right arm and his right leg. Both made contact at the same time.
But on Saturday morning we woke to the news that the NRL’s Match Review Committee had charged the Roosters enforcer and was facing the prospect of missing the team’s preliminary final.
And so it is – Hargreaves heads back to the judiciary on Tuesday night…same JWH-time, same JWH-channel!
Anyone else would have got a small fine for the alleged “trip”.
Unfortunately, the big fella has form.
So we’re off to the circus, again.
The problem isn’t Hargreaves – it’s the MRC.
Six times this year JWH has been charged by the MRC but the judiciary has only suspended him for three games.
What’s that tell you?
It tells you that the MRC do not have their finger on the pulse of the game.
Common sense in rugby league was slaughtered long ago.
Phil Gould didn’t miss in his assessment on Monday night.
“It’s not the offence that’s the problem. The offence shouldn’t be a suspended offence. They’ve been fining it forever and we get in this position every year at this time,” Gould told Nine’s 100% Footy.
“For that incident, you should not be missing any game. If it’s a finable offence once it should always be fineable.
“The fact that he’s had previous offences leading into this and they say you can’t have another fine you’ve got to miss a game, well that’s a flaw in the rules.
“Just make it a rising fine. I bet when it gets to $10,000 they won’t do it. The rules are flawed.
“Nobody, not even the three panel members who find him guilty when he goes to the judiciary, believes he should be missing a game for that.”
If Hargreaves pulled the hair of an opponent like Sam Burgess did, then yeah, there’s a case to ban him for a week.
But not for a technicality on a tackle that was almost technically fine.
Roosters fans will quite rightfully believe JWH’s case should be thrown out in two minutes flat.
When it does, other fans might feel differently.
It’s the nature of rugby league in 2019.
‘Uncle Nick’ has deep pockets…blah, blah, blah.
The fact is, JWH shouldn’t miss a preliminary final for this.
He shouldn’t miss a game if it happened in round three either.
The judiciary have the chance to make things right…again.