Cronulla hooker Michael Ennis is expected to fly to Coffs Harbour and join the NSW camp on Thursday morning after failing in a bid to overturn a high tackle charge at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night.
A loophole in the judicial system means Ennis would’ve been available for the State of Origin decider no matter the outcome of the hearing.
But his one-game suspension now gives incumbent rake Robbie Farah more time to recover after his emergency hand surgery on Tuesday night.
Had Ennis been found not guilty and be cleared to line up for the Sharks against Manly on Sunday, NSW officials would have been pressured to make an early call on Farah.
However now the Blues deputy – who re-united with the rest of his Blues teammates late on Wednesday night – will be given as much time as possible to assess whether he can play through the pain.
Asked what the one-game ban meant for his Origin chances, Ennis said: ” “At the moment my focus (on Wednesday night) was all about Cronulla and trying to be available to play there at Brookvale on Sunday.
“It’s been a disappointing start to the year and now we’re starting to find some form so just really disappointed with the outcome to be honest.”
A three-man panel of Don McKinnon, Chris McKenna and Bronson Harrison took just six minutes to uphold the grade-one charge on Ennis, who argued that his pectoral made first point of contact with North Queensland winger Matthew Wright’s shoulder and the resulting whiplash caused Ennis’ bicep to come into contact with Wright’s face.
“I strongly believe there was nothing else I could have done in this situation. I make over 40 tackles a game (and) 90 per cent of these would be that style of tackle I make,” Ennis said.
However NRL prosecutor Peter McGrath disagreed, claiming it was clear on the footage that the first point of contact was with the bicep.
“In attempting to make a legitimate tackle, he has allowed the first point of contact to player Wright’s head,” McGrath explained.
“There certainly is no intention, but he has effected a base careless tackle without a care of duty.”
Meanwhile, St George-Illawarra forward Will Matthews also copped a one-game ban after his grade-one dangerous throw charge on Anthony Watmough was upheld at the judiciary.
He will miss this Saturday’s clash against the Cowboys.