Reds reeling as skipper hit with massive ban
THE Queensland Reds are reeling with skipper Scott Higginbotham banned for three games over his reckless tackle against the Melbourne Rebels.
Higginbotham despaired last Friday night that his shoulder jolt on Rebels lock Matt Philip was within the limits of the game but the grave potential ramifications of challenging SANZAAR on the issue kicked in.
A Foul Play Review Committee offered Higginbotham a three-week suspension on Sunday night.
The No.8 pleaded guilty because challenging the red card offence may have brought a stiffer penalty into play.
Higginbotham will miss Friday night's clash against the ACT Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium plus matches against the Bulls and Jaguares.
Lock Lukhan Tui has elected to go to a full judicial hearing on Tuesday to judge his citing.
It would suggest he too faces a ban but the grey areas of his tackle have left the Reds believing a fair challenge is on.
Tui was cited when a dumping tackle on Will Genia was judged at red card level after he copped a sin-binning during his team's 45-19 loss.
Foul Play Review Committee Chairman Nigel Hampton QC explained the Higginbotham ruling.
"Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including a statement from the player and submissions from his legal representative, the Foul Play Review Committee upheld this was an objectively dangerous tackle," he said.
"With respect to sanction the Foul Play Review Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of six weeks due to the Players direct contact by the Player's shoulder to his opponents head. However, taking into account mitigating factors including the player's good record over a long career, the lack of injury to the victim and his guilty plea at the earliest possible opportunity, the Foul Play Review Committee reduced the suspension to three weeks."
Meanwhile, rookie Liam Wright and Kane Douglas have been earmarked as replacements for Friday night's game.
Douglas is vastly experienced and started for the Wallabies in the 2015 World Cup final so will easily step up.
Wright is just 20 and made his debut in the closing 20 minutes against the Rebels.
The Durban-born youngster nearly dotted down for a try in that period and his football sense is one of the assets that appeals to coach Brad Thorn.
Wright has height and skill and his leadership has contributed to the Reds squad in off-season training already.