Esi Tonga asked to explain Origin no show
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Young centre Esi Tonga’s hopes of playing State of Origin football for Queensland like his older brother Willie could be crushed by a two-year representative ban.
The 23-year-old Parramatta centre has been summonsed to appear before a special three-man Queensland Rugby League panel after breaking a team curfew and failing to show up for training during last weekend’s Emerging Origin camp under Queensland Academy of Sport head coach Wayne Bennett and Queensland coach Mal Meninga in Brisbane.
He faces a two-year Origin ban if found guilty of breaching strict conduct guidelines.
It’s believed Tonga has already admitted to Meninga that he “messed up”.
However the QRL believe he has to face a special hearing before his punishment is determined.
QRL chairman John McDonald will head up the panel which is also likely to include Meninga.
Tonga is in hot water for defying an 11.30pm curfew on Saturday night.
Players had gathered for dinner and a few drinks earlier in the evening and Tonga, who did not return to his hotel before the curfew deadline, also failed to attend training the next morning under Bennett.
He will be given the chance to appear before the three-man panel but is expected to be dealt with severely.
Queensland Rugby League chief executive Robert Moore said on Wednesday the QRL would not hesitate to ban Tonga from future representative selection if the panel saw fit.
“We are extremely disappointed Esi was absent from the final training session and did not comply with the high standards set by the rest of the group on the evening before the last field session,” Moore said.
“We have been in contact with Esi following the weekend and while he has taken responsibility for missing the session, we believe that he should have the opportunity to put his case forward to a disciplinary panel before any possible sanctions are enforced.
“We will also endeavour to speak with officials from Esi’s NRL club about the matter.”
Moore said the QRL would not back away from a stern course of action if needed.
Esi, who struggled with the Titans last year playing mostly for their affiliate club Ipswich, will join his brother Willie, who has left North Queensland, at the Eels this season.
Willie has played seven Origins for Queensland.
Meninga has taken a hard-line stance on players representing Queensland since allegations some members of his 2009 side experimented with mixing sleeping tablets and energy drinks prior to playing poorly and losing the third Origin game to NSW.
Esi Tonga did not return AAP’s calls on Wednesday.© AAP 2014
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