The news just keeps on getting worse for Leeds Rhinos as tonight’s (Tuesday 28 June) independent disciplinary tribunal could not have ended in a much worse outcome.
Having been handed a two-match penalty notice for grade C charge of using aggressive language or body language towards a referee, Harry Newman decided to appeal and plead ‘not guilty’ to the Match Review Panel.
Finding the challenge to be ‘frivolous’, Newman was given a further match and will now sit out the Rhinos next three games in a huge blow to the player and head coach Rohan Smith.
Having overcome numerous injury problems, the England centre looked in great form on his return at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Thursday after scoring a superb solo try in the first half.
But as the game slipped out of the Rhinos grasp, Newman became increasingly frustrated with referee Tom Grant and he sent a verbal tirade at the official late in the game when he sent a potential St Helens try up to the video referee.
That outburst has proved very costly for Leeds and Newman as he was fined £500 and will miss games against Hull FC, Castleford Tigers and Toulouse Olympique over the coming weeks.
Elsewhere, Zane Tetevano was given a five-match ban by the independent tribunal for the high shot on former Leeds man Konrad Hurrell which saw him given a red card during Thursday’s match at Saints.
He pleaded guilty to the grade D charge, was fined £500 and will miss the same three games as Newman as well as the two games that follow those against Wigan Warriors and Catalans Dragons.
Tetevano’s absence leaves Leeds light up front again with Bodene Thompson also suspended for the next two games after the club decided not to appeal his grade B charge for tripping.
Though the five-match ban handed to Tetevano hardly comes as a shock, the three-match ban given to Newman is something Rohan Smith and his struggling Rhinos side could have done without.
It’s a little hard to understand who thought it was a good idea to appeal, with the evidence against Newman quite damning.
In hindsight the club should have taken the two-match ban and moved on, and we must now hope that the extra game he misses against Toulouse in France later in July doesn’t prove costly.
It’s a lesson well and truly learned for the club going forward, with any future appeals against bans handed out by the disciplinary panel requiring a much stronger defence than the one Newman was able to give.
The risk of having the ban extended should have been enough for those in charge at Headingley to advise Newman not to appeal, but it’s a harsh lesson and his absence will likely hand an opportunity for someone else to shine.