James Tamou has pleaded to be cleared of a shoulder charge which could see him rubbed out of State of Origin II, saying he would have been steamrolled had he not braced himself.
The North Queensland and NSW prop has a nervous wait after being penalised for an ugly incident in the first half of Sunday’s 13-10 loss to Cronulla in which he dropped a shoulder into Andrew Fifita.
The Australian Test prop admitted he was anxious about the release of the match review committee charge sheet on Monday and given the nature of the incident, he was fearing the worst.
His Blues front-row team-mate Fifita let his feelings known, throwing the ball at his head, but Tamou said he didn’t intend to lead with the shoulder and he was bracing himself after being beaten for footwork.
“I’m a bit nervous. It didn’t hit me until after I realised shoulder charge incidents like that in the past have been a week or two,” Tamou told AAP.
“But mine, there wasn’t malice in it, it wasn’t directed at the head, it wasn’t a blind shot, he squared me up, flat footed me and I had no option but to drop the shoulder or he would have run straight over the top of me.
“I’m not known for shoulder charges, so hopefully they’ll see it the way I see it. But I’m a bit nervous.”
A grade one shoulder charge citation carries a penalty of 200 demerit points, meaning even with an early guilty plea, Tamou would be forced to sit out as NSW attempt to keep the series alive at Suncorp Stadium.
A despondent Tamou said he was dreading the thought of missing game two and said he would not be able to watch the match because he would be so pained.
In 2013, Tamou missed game two through suspension after being arrested for drink-driving, an experience which left a mental scar.
“I wouldn’t be able to watch that game,” he said.
“It’s just too hard.
“A few years ago I missed an Origin through ill discipline and it was really tough. I’d be real disappointed.”
Tamou received the support of his Cowboys coach Paul Green who said: “They penalised him and that was enough.”
NSW are also sweating on the availability of Wade Graham after he was penalised for a high tackle on Johnathan Thurston.