Soliola marched to NRL judiciary
Canberra forward Sia Soliola has been sent directly to the National Rugby League judiciary on Tuesday night for a sickening hit on Melbourne star Billy Slater.
The incident was deemed so serious by the match review panel on Sunday that it was passed straight to the judiciary without a grading, which is rare.
NRL referees boss Tony Archer admitted former Kiwis international Soliola should have sent off for the high shot which knocked out Slater.
The late swinging arm to Slater’s head wasn’t enough to convince referee Matt Cecchin to give Soliola his marching orders early in the second half of Saturday’s clash at GIO Stadium.
The high shot ended Slater’s night, but the Storm rallied with Cameron Smith also going off injured, edging out the Raiders 20-14 in a gritty battle.
‘‘It’s important to note that Sia Soliola is on report and the matter will be addressed by the match review committee,’’ Archer said in a statement.
‘‘But based on a review of the tackle, the incident did meet the indicators of a send off.
‘‘The match officials always have the option of a send-off and I expect them to use it in instances of serious foul play.’’
Storm coach Craig Bellamy also disagreed with the decision, saying the tackle ‘‘wasn’t great’’.
‘‘If it’s not a sending off then I don’t know what is a sending off,’’ Bellamy said.
He compared it with Cameron Munster’s sin-binning in the final minute for a professional foul.
‘‘An incident like that happens, and you’re on report so he’s going to come under scrutiny without doubt, but then we lose a player for 10 minutes for holding on to someone,’’ Bellamy said.
‘‘I’m not sure that’s right and fair. At the end of the day the decision was made and we play on.
‘‘(But) to me that seems just a little bit not quite right.’’
Soliola’s lucky escape was one of a number of controversial calls throughout the match, with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart sharing the club’s fans anger in a fiery post-match press conference.
‘‘Why don’t the NRL get the referees to come in and answer some of these questions too?’’ Stuart said.
‘‘Or Tony Archer? When do they ever have to face any accountability?’’