iSelect Titans co-captain Greg Bird, plus Titans and NSW Blues fans, were relieved tonight when Bird was successful in have his grade three dangerous tackle charge downgraded to a grade two penalty.
This means Bird will miss the next two Titans matches, against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium this Friday night and against the Warriors the following Saturday at Cbus Super Stadium, and the first State of Origin match. Had he not been successful he would have missed six club games and all the Origin series.
Represented by Jim Hall, the former judiciary panel chairman and international forward, Bird and the Titans were vindicated in claiming the grading was too excessive compared to other tackles since the NRL introduced a harsher edict on lifting tackles several weeks ago.
Three tackles were used in evidence – Titans prop Matthew White’s tackle in the clash with Penrith which was afforded a grade two ranking, Wests Tigers Tim Simona’s tackle on Titans five-eighth Aidan Sezer which was also rated a grade two offence and one by Richard Fa’aso when playing for Manly.The involvement of fellow defenders Ashley Harrison and Beau Falloon in the tackle on South Sydney winger Bryson Goodwin was also cited.
Judiciary panel members Royce Ayliffe, Don McKinnon and Chris McKenna took less than 10 minutes re-evaluate the charge and hand down their ruling.
“I’m satisfied I got a couple of weeks off the charge, I think everyone involved in rugby league would have known six weeks is probably too much,” he said. “It’s a massive relief, I now only miss the first game. I would have been heartbroken to miss the whole series.
“I was confident in the case we put forward and the comparables [tackles] we put forward I thought were all worse than my tackle.
“I was concerned, but consistency had to prevail."
When asked if the episode would make players think how they defended, Bird replied: “It is definitely going to make you rethink your tackle technique; everyone is in the same boat there.”
The Titans will also be without lock Ashley Harrison against the Broncos which is a blow against a side that will be determined to reverse their narrow loss in the round seven derby clash at Cbus Super Stadium.