Kevin Proctor has been referred directly to the NRL judiciary and may have played his last game for the Gold Coast after his alleged biting of New Zealand team-mate Shaun Johnson saw him become the first player in history to be sent off for the act.
Johnson defended Proctor after full time and declared he does not intend to give evidence against the Titans captain, with both return players returning to the field after full-time and shaking hands.
Proctor's judiciary referral has him facing a lengthy ban that would potentially roll into 2021, while he is also off-contract and no certainty to remain at the club beyond this season's end.
With the base penalty for grade 3 dangerous contact being 500 demerit points, which equates to a five-match suspension, Proctor is facing a longer ban as the match review committee considers the incident to be of a higher grading than detailed in the NRL judiciary code.
The judiciary is also free to determine a different grade to what the match review committee has recommended.
Match Highlights: Sharks v Titans
James Graham was banned for 12 matches after being found guilty of biting Billy Slater in the 2012 grand final, while Canterbury's Brad Morrin copped an eight-week suspension for biting then-Eels centre Timana Tahu.
By the same token several players have been cleared of biting accusations at the judiciary over the years, including Melbourne's Jesse Bromwich, who was exonerated of biting Josh Dugan in just three minutes back in 2015.
The Gold Coast have only six games remaining in their season with the 30-18 loss to Cronulla killing off hopes of an unlikely finals charge.
Titans coach Justin Holbrook suggested Johnson had apologised but his Sharks counterpart John Morris said: "Obviously Shaun felt something. He's not going to report something that didn't happen. He [Proctor] will have a case to answer".
With Bunker officials Ben Lowe and Steve Chiddy believing video evidence of the 64th-minute incident was damning, Proctor became the first player given his marching orders for biting in premiership history.
Both Johnson and Proctor declined to speak to the media after the match but reporters were referred to an interview Johnson did with Fox Sports at full-time in which he said he didn’t want any further action taken against Proctor, who had been in tears in the dressing room.
"Nothing happened, let's just leave it at that," Johnson said.
"We were both heated in the middle of the game and I was a bit high on him and whatever happened, happened but we're still mates.
"It's his 250th [NRL appearance] and I don't want this to dampen this at all. He's been a great player for so long at Melbourne and now Gold Coast, and he's led with his actions his whole career.
Holbrook questions process around Proctor send off
"I don't think it's appropriate and I guess this doesn't do Kevvie justice to talk about this. He's a great player and I've loved playing with him at Kiwi level and I've got nothing but respect for him.
"There's nothing much to say about it. What happens on the field stays on the field, we don't need to talk about it now.”
Asked if he would be prepared to testify at the judiciary hearing, Johnson said: “No, not at all. I don't see the value of taking it any further than what's happened here today. I love him as a player and person and I've got nothing more to say about it”.
Proctor sent off in game 250 for alleged bite
Holbrook questioned why the Bunker intervened to send off Proctor after referee Henry Perenara stopped the game.
While the Bunker reviewed the incident, in which Johnson’s arm was wrapped around his face, Proctor could be heard to say: “You were choking me."
“There was no on-field complaint by the player so you need the officials to answer the question,” Holbrook said.
"I am disappointed. I thought we were a real good chance of winning the game at 12-12. It came down to one big decision by too many people. We have done well with the one ref but there were too many extra people involved.
"Both players know each other really well and they both have exchanged words to each other [after the match]. One has apologised - and Kevin wasn’t the one who apologised. He wanted to win the game today and didn’t get the chance."
Taylor fires a pass over to Thompson
Morris said he had spoken briefly to Johnson but was more concerned about the groin injury that forced him from the field in the 66th minute.
"It's hard for me to comment on. I saw what everyone saw," Morris said.
"I can't go into depth too much about what may or may not have occurred. The bunker felt there was enough evidence there to send him off.
"It's not a great look, but I don't want to be here accusing him of it as well. The referee has made a decision to send him off."