South Sydney’s NRL premiership defence is in a tailspin with prop George Burgess facing a two-week ban for throwing a water bottle at an opponent.
If found guilty Burgess will miss the side’s elimination semi-final with Cronulla on Sunday – and the following week’s match if they win – after being charged with a grade two contrary conduct offence.
The Rabbitohs’ chances of going back-to-back appear in tatters after being unravelled by ill-discipline and injury.
Hooker Issac Luke will not be available for selection until next week after he was suspended for a shoulder charge in his return game from shoulder charge suspension.
Back-rower John Sutton’s season has been ended by a broken leg and skipper Greg Inglis is in a race against the clock to be fit after knee surgery.
The Rabbitohs are treading water after three losses in a row and conceding 109 points in that period.
The match review committee took a dim view of Burgess’ actions because he was sitting on the bench when he threw the plastic drink bottle at Sydney Roosters prop Kane Evans.
Both Burgess and Evans were charged with contrary conduct for their part in the 58th minute scuffle.
Evans started the push and shove when he threw the ball at the head of Rabbitohs back-rower Paul Carter but will be free to play with an early guilty plea to his grade one charge.
His Roosters teammate James Maloney will also be free to play in Friday’s qualifying final against Melbourne despite being charged with tripping.
The former NSW half was charged with a grade one tripping offence after he stuck his leg out at Souths’ Kyle Turner and collected him on the thigh.
Penrith’s Josh Mansour and Tupou Sopoaga and Newcastle’s Sione Mata’utia have been charged for their involvement in an ugly scuffle which came dangerously close to a group of young cheerleaders sitting on the sidelines.
All three were charged with contrary conduct for the 65th minute incident in Sunday’s wooden spoon play-off at Pepper Stadium.
The incident began on the field but spilled over onto the sidelines and several players came close to falling on a group of young girls who were sitting against the fence.
At one point, the girls’ minder had to push several players away so they didn’t tread on the youngsters.
Mansour and Sopoaga will be free to play with early guilty pleas while Mata’utia is facing a one-game ban regardless of his plea.
Newcastle forward Tariq Sims is facing missing the start of the 2016 season after he was cited for a shoulder charge on Panthers hooker James Segeyaro.
Sims was slapped with a grade two offence and faces four to six weeks out because of his poor record.
He was hit with 50 per cent loading because of a grade three charge which outed him for five weeks and prematurely ended his 2014 season. He also had 50 carry over points.
Wests Tigers veteran Dene Halatua can accept a one-game ban after he was charged with a shoulder charge on St George Illawarra’s Drew Hutchison.
He was also cited for a high tackle but will not serve any games for it.
His Tigers teammate Luke Brooks can accept a one-game ban for a dangerous throw on Jason Nightingale while the Gold Coast’s Luke Douglas won’t serve any time despite being cited for dangerous contact.