The Sydney Roosters suffered a further long-term injury and another player appeared to touch a referee as North Queensland kept the Tricolours winless after three rounds of the new NRL season.
Centre Dale Copley was forced off in the opening minutes of the Roosters’ 40-0 loss on Thursday night at 1300SMILES Stadium. Copley, 24, will be sidelined for up to four months.
He joins internationals Boyd Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves on a big-name casualty list, while former co-captain Mitchell Pearce has more than a month remaining on a disciplinary suspension.
Just 24 hours after Canterbury prop David Klemmer escaped at the judiciary on a charge of touching a match official, the issue raised its head again when a screen capture of Cowboys back-rower Ethan Lowe with his hand on the side of referee Gerard Sutton came to light.
The 13th-minute incident was first reported by Fox Sports, whose commentator Warren Smith later tweeted the still.
A try to fullback Lachlan Coote right on halftime pretty much guaranteed Trent Robinson’s side would head into round four with a 0-3 record.
While defensive decisions inside him left him posted, Roosters winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall had a nightmare start to his 199th game when two tries were scored down his side of the field in the opening eight minutes.
First, it was North Queensland centre Kane Linnett after lead-up from Johnathan Thurston and Coote.
Then it was another former Rooster, winger Antonio Winterstein, with captain Thurston and fullback Coote again the instigators.
When interchange forward Scott Bolton bullocked his way over using sheer strength just after halftime, the Roosters were cooked.
After a near miss for Michael Morgan in the 65th minute, the five-eighth beat defender Mitch Aubusson to post his side’s fifth try three minutes later.