North Queensland Cowboys and NRL at war after Tariq Sims pleads guilty

September 16, 2014 – 9:00PM

Phil Lutton

brisbanetimes.com.au sports editor

On report for a late challenge: Tariq Sims.

On report for a late challenge: Tariq Sims. Photo: Getty Images

An explosive afternoon has seen the NRL slap down North Queensland with a $10,000 fine, only hours after Cowboys coach Paul Green declared he had “no faith” in rugby league officialdom.

If tensions were at boiling point ahead of Friday’s sudden-death semi final against the Sydney Roosters, Green and NRL head of football Todd Greenberg tipped the pot all over the kitchen floor on Tuesday.

In what has become a bitter September tradition, the Cowboys once again found themselves at odds with rugby league headquarters after Tariq Sims was ruled out of the remaining finals following an early guilty plea for his shoulder charge on Justin Hodges.

Cowboys coach Paul Green.

Cowboys coach Paul Green. Photo: Getty Images

North Queensland felt they had a strong case to argue should they make the trip to Sydney but Green said he didn’t trust the ability of the judiciary panel to mete out fair and consistent punishments.

That scepticism saw the Cowboys decide not to roll the dice with Knights-bound Sims, who would have missed seven matches should the challenge have failed. His Cowboys career is now over, with veteran Glenn Hall to start against the Roosters on Friday night.

“I was really surprised by how they charged it, especially when you look at other charges or no charges in recent weeks. Me, as the coach, and the club have no faith that there’s any consistency in what they do,” Green said.

Back-rower Tariq Sims has been rubbed out by the review panel.

Back-rower Tariq Sims has been rubbed out by the review panel. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

“We could have gone down and argued the case. However, we felt it was a big risk for Tariq, potentially seven weeks. And given our record with the judiciary… we took Tariq in last time for a crusher tackle. I thought there was nothing in it and he got found guilty.

“I’ve got no faith in the consistency of the judiciary so we felt it was better just to move on. It’s cost us and it’s cost Tariq. It doesn’t seem to cost anyone else in the competition. I’ll leave it at that.”

The NRL responded by issuing a $10,000 fine for questioning the integrity of the match review committee and judiciary.

Head of football Todd Greenberg said the NRL would not stand by and allow the credibility of the committee to be attacked, citing the Cowboys use of social media to further spread the message.

Greenberg said there is a system in place for clubs to challenge charges laid against players.

“The members of the match review committee and judiciary have hundreds of games experience and they do not deserve to have their integrity and credibility questioned,” he said.

“If the club wanted to dispute the charge against Tariq Sims they could have gone through an independent process and put their case.

“Instead, they have elected to attack the credibility of the committee and that cannot be tolerated.”

The fact the Cowboys felt they couldn’t get a fair hearing shows a startling disconnect between the Townsville club and the game’s judiciary process. It is a relationship that has been steadily eroding throughout the season.

Green was left stunned by the downgrading of Josh Reynolds’ tackle on his star centre Brent Tate during State of Origin and felt Sims was unlucky to be handed a one-game ban for a crusher tackle on Wests Tiger Tim Simona last month.

Throw in the deeply unsteady relationship with referees after two years of being handed howlers in finals games and the Cowboys are starting to genuinely believe the cards aren’t being stacked in their favour.

Green’s brother Rick, a Brisbane-based barrister, had been engaged for the Sims hearing should it have progressed but his services weren’t required after the Cowboys cut their losses on Tuesday afternoon.

The Cowboys remain miffed at the severity of the charge levelled at Sims while similar incidents, like Canterbury forward Tony Williams’ contact with Titans five-eighth Aidan Sezer last week, were ignored.

“I felt we had sufficient evidence to argue, given what the NRL showed us at the start of the season about what constitutes a shoulder charge. I felt we had a good argument,” Green said.

“It’s ended not just his season but his career at the club. That’s something Tariq has to deal with. He’s pretty shattered by it. But we’ll be right. A big game ahead of us. We’ll get on with it.”

While Sims didn’t escape the ire of the judiciary, Roosters forward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves wasn’t charged after being put on report for a high tackle on Penrith’s Brent Kite.

Green, a former assistant at the Roosters, didn’t miss the opportunity to reference that decision during his scathing press conference.

“They’ve got a big forward pack, fairly aggressive, which they have been in recent weeks. It doesn’t seem to worry them off the field, how aggressive they play. That’s fine, we expect that in big games,” Green said.

With the week now cleared, the Cowboys will focus on the Roosters, who were upset in the first week of the finals by the Penrith Panthers. The winner meets South Sydney for a spot in the grand final.

Source : The Brisbane Times

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