JWH a test of NRL judiciary’s credibility
THIS is a test of the NRL judiciary's credibility.
Because under the rules of the game as they stand there is no way Jared Waerea-Hargreaves should beat his tripping charge when he fronts the judiciary on Tuesday night.
That is the expert opinion of former leading referee and NRL match review chairman Greg McCallum ahead of what will be potentially the most crucial hearing of this rugby league season.
With the Sydney Roosters enforcer facing a one-match ban for the clumsy incident involving South Sydney speedster James Roberts, losing JWH for the sudden death preliminary final could prove a fatal blow for the reigning premiers in their quest to claim back-to-back titles.
Waerea-Hargreaves was enormous in the win over the Rabbitohs and regardless of whether they end up playing Melbourne or Parramatta for a right to play in the grand final,
Fox Sports Stats show that the Roosters' winning record drops dramatically from 77 per cent to 44 per cent when Waerea-Hargreaves is not on the field, losing five of nine games in the last two years.
That probably explains why the Roosters are throwing the dice by fronting the judiciary for the second straight week despite all logic suggesting they have no chance of winning.
Asked if he gave Waerea-Hargreaves any hope of beating the charge, McCallum was adamant: "I would say no, he wouldn't be able to beat that charge according to the rules of the game. It was just a trip."
And it shouldn't matter if most believe the incident was not worthy of rubbing a player out of a game this big, the rules are the rules.
McCallum was not surprised Waerea-Hargreaves beat the charge for the tackle on Liam Knight the previous week.
"I think there has been more serious tackles in recent weeks than his one so, no, I wasn't surprised," McCallum said of the Knight incident.
But this time it appears a no-brainer, he said: "Yes, I would be surprised if he got off this charge because it is quite clear-cut.
"There is clear vision and what do you say?
"If someone says, 'you threw your leg out and guy fell over it', that is what the video shows as well.
"I don't know how you can beat that.
"He may say he was off balance and didn't mean to make contact and all that, but a trip is a trip."
McCallum agrees with the growing debate that the NRL needs to change its policy to stop incidents like this resulting in a ban rather than a fine increase.
"When fines came in I didn't favour doing it," McCallum explained. "I think the points system was strong enough and should have been left alone.
"But having said that if you brought fines in, it is very difficult to equate the match review system of points and penalties and carryovers and everything else to those minor incidents.
"It is too hard to blend it together. I would think increasing the fines significantly as you work through is a better way of doing it than trying to mesh the old system and the fines together."