Penrith five-eighth Travis Burns must now wait another week until he faces the music over his intentional high tackle charge at the NRL judiciary, and teammate Clint Newton understands his pain.
Back in 2004, while playing for Newcastle, Newton copped a massive 12-week suspension for striking St George Illawarra forward Ashton Sims flush in the head with a stray elbow.
South Sydney and Brisbane decided on Tuesday to challenge the grading of charges for their respective stars Greg Inglis and Ben Te’o at Wednesday night’s judiciary, while the Panthers pleaded not guilty to Burns’ intentional charge.
Penrith announced they had submitted a notice of preparedness to plead to a lesser charge of a reckless high tackle, however their hearing has been adjourned until the following Wednesday.
Although Burns is contracted to the Panthers for 2013, critics have speculated whether a maximum 15-week ban would spell the end of the 28-year-old journeyman’s NRL career.
Newton recalls being labelled a “coward” and a “dog” in the days leading up to his hearing in `04 and says from his experience, the hardest thing for Burns to deal with will be the feeling he’s being pre-judged.
“The media have to do their job and they have to report on the incident and everyone has an opinion … but I think sometimes (trial by media) can happen,” said Newton.
“I was in an unfortunate position where mine happened on a Friday night, in front of a million people. It didn’t look great. I said that at the time, but I still maintain it was an accident.
“I had five or six days before I got to the judiciary and then bang I was hit with 12 weeks.
“As I said in my hearing, I’ve got a duty of care, and my duty of care is to not do what I did, it was careless. But you shouldn’t be hung, drawn and quartered prior to the hearing.”
Although the Panthers were granted leave by NRL judiciary chairman Greg Woods on account of the seriousness of the charge, Burns is not eligible to play against Cronulla this weekend because he has accepted a three-match ban for a chicken wing tackle from the same game.
In regards to the separate high tackle charge, Newton said it was dangerous practice to try and judge what a player was thinking when foul play incidents are examined.
He advised Burns to block out other people’s opinions leading into the hearing.
“That was my biggest mistake. I went in thinking I might not get as long as I did, and came out going, `that’s not what I expected,’” he said.
“No one truly knows what’s going through that player’s head at the time.”
Inglis is disputing the severity of his grade four dangerous contact charge on Wednesday, where he’s facing four weeks on the sideline if unsuccessful.
Brisbane’s Te’o is seeking a downgrade on his grade two high tackle charge in a bid to play this weekend, while teammate Josh Hoffman took the early guilty plea on his dangerous contact charge and will miss a game.