The NRL has defended the differing penalties handed down to Latrell Mitchell and Joey Leilua, despite claims from some quarters that their respective high shots were similar.
Mitchell was hit with a two-week ban for a shot on Josh Reynolds on Friday, while Leilua will be sidelined for four weeks for his hit on Dylan Edwards last week.
Reports emerged over the weekend that the Wests Tigers were privately furious at what they saw as inconsistencies in the penalties.
But the NRL’s head of football, Graham Annesley, has used his weekly briefing to defend the decisions of the match review committee (MRC), while indicating both Mitchell and Reynolds were lucky not to be sin-binned for their dust-up.
Leilua was outed for four weeks after flooring Edwards off-the-ball, moments after Leilua’s brother Luciano was taken from the field after being hit in a high tackle.
“There is a long list of considerations that the MRC is required to consider before they lay a charge against a player,” he said.
“In the case of Joey Leilua … a player who was literally a bystander was hit quite high, it was off the ball and that player hadn’t done anything to aggravate the situation.
“He was charged with dangerous contact, not a high tackle.”
Annesley said Mitchell’s run in with Reynolds, which came after the Tigers five-eighth accidentally kicked Souths’ Campbell Graham in the head as they contested a loose ball, warranted a much lighter penalty.
“With Latrell Mitchell it was more of a swinging arm, more of a striking action, rather than a high tackle,” he said.
“They are different, and consequently the MRC viewed them differently.
“They’re not the same, it’s quite easy at times to say they’re the same, but they’re not.
“If you break them down you can very quickly mount a case to say they’re not the same.”
Annesley said he would have had no problems if referee Ben Cummins had given both Reynolds and Mitchell 10 minutes to cool down.
“I wouldn’t have been upset if both of them had been sent to the sin-bin,” he said.
“These are judgement calls that have to be made during the course of the game, and we talk every week about judgement calls.
“At times observers and fans won’t agree with the judgement calls, but we don’t want to see those incidents in our game.
“If the officials had decided to sin-bin both players I would have been OK with that.
“I think they should have been sent to the sin-bin, that’s my judgement.”