Josh McGuire’s NRL season could be over after the league came down hard on the North Queensland prop for a third contrary conduct offence this year.
McGuire has been hit with a grade-two charge for working over the face of Brisbane forward David Fifita in Thursday night’s loss to the Broncos.
He could normally escape with a one-match ban with an early guilty plea, but the 29-year-old’s poor record this season means he is facing up to four weeks.
McGuire has twice previously been charged this year for facials.
He earned the ire of Queensland teammate Cameron Muster in round five against Melbourne, amid initial suggestions of an eye gouge.
At the time the NRL revealed obscured camera angles prevented them levelling a charge above a grade-one contrary conduct.
The Queensland forward was again in the headlines against Manly in round 13, where he smothered the face of Dylan Walker.
On that occasion no eye-gouging accusation was made by Walker, and McGuire was again hit with a heavy fine for a contrary conduct charge.
The latest charge for Thursday’s incident is again for a facial and not a gouge, but the issue is considered more serious as it comes with a heavier grade.
If McGuire takes an early guilty plea he will miss three matches, but if he fights it at the judiciary and loses his ban will be four games and his season over.
Former club and representative teammates Darren Lockyer and Billy Slater had earlier criticised McGuire’s actions on Thursday night.
“He’s got priors. He’s always been this way inclined Josh McGuire,” Lockyer told Channel Nine.
“I think it’s just a bit of a facial. This is the third time this year he has been in a bit of strife for hands on the face. He might miss a game for that.”
Slater questioned why he felt the need to put his hand anywhere near Fifta’s face given his recent record and reputation.
“It was totally unnecessary. He didn’t need to put his hand anywhere near the face,” Slater added.
“And if you’re Josh McGuire even more so you don’t put the hand anywhere near the face.”
Cowboys coach Paul Green has previously defended McGuire this year, as he claimed the forward had copped “a bad rap” for his aggressive style of football.