Why it’s time to blow up hopeless blight on NRL

Mark Levy is the host of 2GB’s Wide World of Sports radio show. Tune in from 6pm-7pm, Monday to Thursday!

I had high hopes for the NRL match review committee in 2020 but nothing ever changes.

Rugby league supporters are hard to please but they’re entitled to some consistency from the panel which is tasked with imposing penalties on players for acts of foul play.

I wrote last week about the late, off-the-ball tackle from Wests Tigers centre Joey Leilua, who’s lucky to only be missing four matches for the cowardly act. 

The match review committee also copped plenty of flak for its weak-kneed response to the Addin Fonua-Blake controversy, with CEO Andrew Abdo forced to step in and take further action.

Abdo told 2GB’s Continuous Call Team: “My recommendation to the ARL Commission will be to refer similar incidents of significant abuse or behaviour to the NRL judiciary.”

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I was prepared to give the NRL match review committee a second chance with the change in personnel this year. 

Former Manly flyer Michael Robertson is now chairing the panel but the latest charge-sheet has left me and plenty of others scratching our heads.

Latrell Mitchell will miss two matches for a similar, if not worse incident to the one involving Leilua. 

The South Sydney fullback slammed Josh Reynolds across the jaw with a swinging arm, before throwing him to the ground in a spiteful game.

Mitchell should have been sent from the field on Friday night but the referee allowed him to continue for the Rabbitohs. 

Adding to his wrap sheet, the NRL superstar was also fined for a careless high tackle on Luke Garner.

Latrell Mitchell is tackled during his controversial outing in Rabbitohs vs Wests Tigers. (Getty)

Wests Tigers utility Reynolds landed himself in hot water for attempting to kick the ball and contacting an opposing player in the head. 

There was no malice from the man affectionately known as ‘Grub’ but he’ll still miss the next two matches.

The NRL will say no two incidents are the same and other factors determine what penalty is imposed, like grading, prior offences, mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

But there’s got to be a better way.

Like most supporters, I’ve lost complete faith in the match review committee and I think it’s time serious acts of foul play are referred straight to the NRL judiciary, where an appropriate punishment will be imposed.

Joey Leilua cops a four-match ban and Latrell Mitchell receives two games – it’s not fair.

Joey Leilua is confronted by Panthers players after decking Dylan Edwards. (Getty)

The NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley announced a raft of changes to the process at the beginning of the season, including grade two and grade three careless high tackle charges, carrying two and three-week bans before early guilty pleas and good behaviour are considered.

Punishments for reckless high tackles were also beefed up, with grade one offences now worth 400 points, grade two 500 points and grade three 600 points.

It sounds good in theory but in my opinion, the process remains flawed.

I don’t like the idea of fining players for tripping and I still think the monetary penalties for high tackles are a cop-out for acts of foul play.

It’s either warranting a suspension or not.

They were designed to ensure players don’t miss big games but there’s always been an avenue for them to challenge the punishment at the judiciary.

I think it’s time for the NRL to start again with the match review committee and the judiciary because the inconsistencies are a major blight on the game.

**Do you agree?  Let me know what you think by emailing the Wide World of Sports radio show here

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