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Matai facing another lenient NRL ban

Steve Matai's tally of high tackle charges has cracked double figures, but the serial offender is facing another lenient ban as part of a triple dose of good news for reigning NRL premiers Manly.
Matai facing another lenient NRL ban
by NRL

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, Sept 10 AAP - Steve Matai's tally of high tackle charges has cracked double figures, but the serial offender is facing another lenient ban as part of a triple dose of good news for reigning NRL premiers Manly.

Despite fears he could be rubbed out for some time, Matai can escape with just a one-game ban with an early guilty plea for his high tackle on Canterbury winger Sam Perrett.

While it would rub him out of Friday night's semi-final against North Queensland, his probable absence is softened somewhat by news the Sea Eagles could have co-captain Jamie Lyon available.

Scans on Monday confirmed his calf strain was not as bad as first thought and the former Test centre will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness.

Prop Jason King was also cleared to play with his grade one high tackle charge deemed not serious enough to warrant suspension.

But it was the relatively light sentence for Matai which raised eyebrows given it was the tenth high tackle charge of his career.

On nine occasions he has been found guilty for a total of 17 weeks on the sidelines, but only once has he been suspended for more than two weeks for a single offence.

The ARL Commission recently vowed to get tough on shoulder charges which make contact with the head - with precedents to be ignored in dealing out bans.

There was no edict to increase punishments for high tackles.

The NRL's chief medical officer Ron Muratore said it was not his position to comment on the relative merits of bans, though he insisted players needed to be protected from hits to the head.

"Any contact to the head is potentially dangerous and we need to stamp it out," Muratore told AAP.

Perrett was stunned but not concussed by the high shot, with Matai's arm making contact with the chin of the Kiwi international.

Matai would risk a two-game ban by challenging the ban at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night thanks to 50 per cent loading for a previous offence and 46 carry-over points.

"I'm sure the club will do everything in their power to get Steve off," Sea Eagles forward Joe Galuvao told reporters.

"He's an integral part of our team. Fingers crossed."

The Sea Eagles have until midday on Tuesday to enter a plea.

The injury news wasn't as good for finals rivals South Sydney and Canberra, with both losing a centre for the season.

The Rabbitohs confirmed veteran Matt King has suffered a broken arm while the Raiders will be without the NRL's leading pointscorer after scans revealed a fractured cheekbone for Jarrod Croker.


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