James Roberts could miss Brisbane’s NRL preliminary final after being charged with kicking in his side’s elimination final win over Gold Coast.
The match review committee slapped the Broncos’ centre with a grade-one contrary conduct charge for lashing out at Titans forward Ryan Simpkins in the 51st minute of Friday night’s Suncorp Stadium sudden-death clash.
A previous offence lifts the points penalty to a minimum 140, meaning Roberts will have to beat the charge at the judiciary if he is to play for Broncos when they vie for a grand final berth in a fortnight.
Simpkins was in the play-the-ball area when Roberts stood up and kicked him twice, however wasn’t penalised or placed on report by on-field officials.
The Titans immediately remonstrated with referees, questioning why the play was not called back, and Broncos forward Alex Glenn scored a crucial try not long after.
The incident drew the ire of Titans coach Neil Henry post-match.
“A player kicks a defender in the back, he has two goes at him and they don’t do anything about it,” Henry said in an emotional post-match media conference.
However, Broncos coach Wayne Bennett was adamant his player had no case to answer.
“That won’t come under scrutiny. I saw what he did but I’m just telling you, he’s never going to be charged,” he said.
NRL referees boss Tony Archer revealed the bunker was unable to intervene in the incident because Roberts had struck out with his foot before he played the ball.
Under NRL rules, the video referees can review anything that happens during the play in which a try is scored, with the cut-off point being the play-the-ball.
In a quirk of the rules, had Roberts kicked Simpkins after he played the ball, the bunker could have gone back to review it and possibly taken the try off the Broncos.
“The check on the try starts at the point of the play the ball, so once the ball is clear …” Archer said.
“Otherwise, you could go all the way back through a whole set and have a knock-on previously.
“In relation to the checking of the try, that’s the point they can go back to.”