There was been a lot of debate in the NRL, and indeed Super League, over bans in recent weeks with any suspension now picked up being even more damaging for players given the high stakes we’re now enjoying at this stage of the season.
There was uproar amongst fans when Leeds Rhinos’ Rhyse Martin was given a one-match ban for a high tackle on former teammate Alex Mellor which Mellor himself believed didn’t warrant a ban.
Martin is chasing a Super League record of 37 consecutive goal kicks without missing having equalled Mason Lino’s record against the Mellor’s Castleford Tigers. He’s also five short of the World Record set by Liam Finn and Jamie Ellis at 41.
The ban denied him a chance of chasing this record and also meant he would miss the sudden death play-off game against Catalans. Leeds appealed the ban but Martin subsequently copped a second game when the appeal was deemed ‘frivolous.’ Leeds again appealed, this time questioning the decision to deem the prior appeal as ‘frivolous’ and again failed meaning Martin will miss the semi-final against Wigan this Friday.
In the NRL, things have been no less controversial. The main discussion around bans centres around Penrith Panther’s Taylan May who was given a two-match ban by the NRL for an incident in a Queensland pub where he threw a man to the ground which was deemed as an assault resulting in $1000 fine worsened by the NRL’s decision to fine him a further $7500 and ban him for two games which was set to end his play-off hopes until the NRL ruled that the ban could be served next year due to the fact the incident was off field and occurred last year.
Ironically, May will still miss the semi-final due to a high tackle which led to a one-match ban but would still feature in the Grand Final should Penrith make it as they look to retain their crown.
However, in need of two wins to also return to the Grand Final where they lost to Penrith last year, Souths have lost prop Tom Burgess to a two-game ban which could end his season should Souths lose over the next fortnight.
Burgess received one of seven yellow cards in the game against Sydney in week one of the play-offs in a wild derby.
A two-match ban came courtesy of an early guilty plea, but Bunnies fans are now claiming he should be able to defer the ban until next year like May and they’ve even set up a petition for it which already has over 4000 signatures.
It’s unlikely this will sway the NRL but it shows the controversy sparked by the handing out of bans.