Latrell Mitchell has received a four-match NRL suspension after losing his fight at the judiciary, leaving his hopes of winning a maiden Dally M Medal in tatters.
- The South Sydney fullback was charged for his high shot on Tigers winger David Nofoaluma
- His four-match ban damages his chances of a maiden Dally M medal, which he currently leads the voting for
- Bulldogs forward Jack Hetherington will miss five matches after being sent off on Sunday against the Cowboys
The South Sydney superstar failed in his bid to have a grade two dangerous contact charge downgraded on Tuesday night.
The 23-year-old was charged after hitting Tigers winger David Nofoaluma with a late arm to the face during Souths’ 18-14 victory at Stadium Australia on Saturday.
Mitchell is on top of the Dally M medal leaderboard with 13 points, but his unsuccessful bid to downgrade his charge means he is now ineligible to win the award for the first time.
During the hearing, Mitchell tried to argue he was attempting to avoid contact with Nofoaluma, who had just kicked the ball infield which led to the Tigers first try of the match.
NRL prosecutor Peter McGrath said Mitchell’s swinging arm was the reason the Tigers winger was knocked to the ground.
“He turns his back so he’s not attempting – at this point – to make a tackle as such,” McGrath told NRL.com.
“He pushes or throws his left arm in the direction of Nofoaluma, who is not off-balance from having kicked the ball, it’s the impact of an elbow or forearm to his face.”
South Sydney football manager Mark Ellison told NRL.com he believed Mitchell was the victim on an unfortunate situation.
“I don’t think he’s a dirty player. I think he was caught by circumstances in this incident and it was bad luck for him,” he said.
“We’re disappointed for the result tonight.”
Hetherington cops huge ban after being season’s first send-off
Jack Hetherington is paying a hefty price for his poor disciplinary record, accepting a five-match ban for a tackle that otherwise would have cost him three weeks on the sidelines.
On Tuesday the Canterbury enforcer pleaded guilty to a grade-three, careless high tackle charge, the highest level available without referring a player straight to the judiciary.
The resulting suspension is his sixth ban in a 29-game NRL career. He has already missed 10 matches through bans alone.
By the time Hetherington is eligible to return — in round 12 against his former club Penrith — the 24-year-old will have bans tallying more than half of the number of NRL games he has played.
The high shot on the Cowboys’ Valentine Holmes on Sunday also gave the 24-year-old unfortunate notoriety as the first player to be sent off in an NRL match this season.
With his past record including two careless high tackle charges, his demerit points for the hit were increased by 120 per cent.
In taking the early guilty plea, Hetherington has saved himself a potential sixth match on the sidelines for a failed challenge at the judiciary on Tuesday night.
He will miss the games against Cronulla, Parramatta, St George Illawarra, Canberra and Gold Coast for the winless Bulldogs.
Penrith centre Paul Momirovski was also suspended for three matches for a high tackle on Brisbane’s Tom Dearden, during his side’s 20-12 win on Thursday at Lang Park.