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Sia Soliola banned and NRL officials axed after shocking tackle on Billy Slater

Canberra lock Sia Soliola has been banned for five matches after his shocking tackle on Billy Slater.

The former St Helens man hit Slater late and high, leaving the Storm full-back unconscious for 2-3 minutes and unable to remember the incident.

Following long deliberation, the NRL judiciary said Soliola had a chance to avoid the collision and handed him a five-match suspension after he pleaded guilty to the charge.

Incredibly, Soliola was only put on report for the hit and NRL referees boss Tony Archer has pinned the blame on review official Bernard Sutton and assistant referee Chris Butler.

Archer admitted shortly after the game that Soliola should have been sent off, but today revealed that lead on-field referee Matt Checchin was not at fault.

“The officials who were ultimately responsible for the decision, given it occurred in backplay, were the senior review official and the assist referee,” Archer said.

“As a result, Bernie Sutton will not be a senior review official in round 21, and Chris Butler will officiate in Queensland Cup.

“It is my expectation that the assist referee firstly identifies incidents in backplay, while the senior review official should have taken stronger action due to the serious nature of this incident.”

Meanwhile, Billy Slater has been ruled out of Melbourne’s clash against rivals Manly on Sunday after close observation and tests on his concussion.

“We are going to rest Billy this week,” Storm Football Director Frank Ponissi said.

“We could have named him and continued to monitor him during the week, but we decided that given the seriousness of his concussion, we have taken the conservative approach to rest him.

“He will start some form of light training as the week goes on and hopefully he will be back for the Cowboys game in Round 22.”

Photo: AAP, Mick Tsikas

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