St George Illawarra star Tyson Frizell will face the NRL judiciary on Tuesday to fight a one-match suspension for touching a referee, a suspension that has been widely ridiculed by rugby league luminaries.
Frizell was slapped with a grade one contrary conduct charge for contact on referee Chris James after brushing past him while running back into a defensive position in his team’s loss to Canterbury.
If found guilty, the NSW Origin representative will miss Thursday’s clash with Brisbane in Wollongong.
But he has plenty of high-profile support – from retired greats Brad Fittler and Darren Lockyer and even Broncos veteran Sam Thaiday, who believes the NRL’s punishments for such innocuous incidents were way out of proportion.
“There’s zero common sense in our game these days, especially when it comes to some of these calls,” Thaiday told reporters on Monday.
“There’s many incidents throughout a lot of games where referees have been brushed by, there’s many incidents out there where referees are touching players as well.
“We just need to judge incidents on their merits and make sure people aren’t missing games for silly little infringements like that.”
Thaiday was handed a one-game ban three years ago for tugging on a referee’s shirt in an attempt to demonstrate he’d had his own jersey pulled during a scrum.
The 31-year-old admitted that was “fair” enough but he couldn’t accept Frizell copping the same sanction for merely brushing the chest of a referee in an attempt to move past him.
Fellow Broncos star Corey Parker said the crackdown was “extremely frustrating” and was testing the patience of NRL fans.
“For the men and women who pay their money to come and watch a game of rugby league and follow it through the good and bad that have to deal with those sorts of decisions… you can just imagine it’s frustrating,” Parker told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.
“You just assume and hope that the powers above make the right calls.
“But at the moment everyone has an opinion on it.”
Dragons second-rower Joel Thompson, meanwhile, has made an early guilty plea and will sit out Thursday’s clash after his high tackle on Bulldogs forward Josh Jackson.