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St George Illawarra star Tyson Frizell will serve a one-match suspension after being found guilty at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night of making contact with a referee.
Frizell was charged with grade-one contrary conduct – contact with match official, for touching referee Chris James in St George Illawarra’s Friday night loss to Canterbury.
The NSW State of Origin back-rower will miss Thursday night’s round-22 opener against Brisbane at WIN Stadium.
The judiciary panel of Chris McKenna, Mal Cochrane and Sean Garlick took just five minutes to reach their verdict after a hearing that lasted half an hour.
“I’m pretty disappointed about the outcome,” Frizell said immediately after the hearing at Rugby League Central.
“Something we tried to put forward was that it was an accident.
“I guess they see it as black and white, and say contact with the referee will give you a week on the sideline.”
Judiciary prosecutor Peter McGrath argued the contact Frizell made in the fourth minute of the round-21 Bulldogs clash was “neither incidental or accidental”.
“He had that special duty all players do to avoid contact with the referee, and he had plenty of time to do that,” McGrath said.
“The contact was avoidable and unnecessary.”
Frizell’s defence counsel Nick Ghabar argued that his client did not initiate contact with James.
“The referee made the initial contact with player Frizell,” he said.
“The reflex nature of (Frizell’s) action was accidental.
“Neither person appreciated how close they were in proximity to each other.
“It was a slight tap or a brush against the referee. He gently or politely touched him after he was confronted with the referee blocking his path.”
However, the panel saw the incident differently.
Frizell will return on Saturday week for the Dragons’ round-23 match against arch-rivals Cronulla at Kogarah Oval.