NRL legend Johnathan Thurston expects a remorseful Corey Harawira-Naera to miss the rest of the season after the Canberra forward was sent off for a high shot on Melbourne’s Jahrome Hughes.
There were no complaints from Harawira-Naera when he was marched with four minutes to go in the Raiders’ frustrating 26-16 loss to the Storm on Thursday, even apologising to Hughes as the pair left the ground.
The Storm led 20-4, but Bailey Simonsson’s second and third tries drew them within four points before the Raiders blew chances of an upset with a series of unforced errors in the final 20 minutes.
The loss left the Raiders teetering on the edge of the top eight with three rounds to play, while it was an 18th straight win for the Storm.
Raiders teammate Josh Papalii copped a three-game suspension for a high shot that saw him sent off earlier this season.
“He’s going to be in a lot of strife, Corey,” Thurston told Channel Nine post game.
“It’s a tackle that has certainly gone wrong. I don’t know if he’ll see out the end of the year.
“He’s going to be in for a long stint on the sideline; it’s gone horribly wrong, I don’t know how you’re going to defend that.”
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart didn’t argue against the send-off, but did endorse Harawira-Naera’s character.
“If he has hit him in the head, yes (it’s the correct decision), but it is not in Corey’s makeup to hurt someone like that,” the coach said.
“It is a collision game and he has come in fast.”
Storm coach Craig Bellamy said Hughes was struggling after the hit and couldn’t remember any details of the game.
Harawira-Naera’s sidelining comes just days after the club agreed to loan middle forwards Corey Horsburgh and Ryan James to Canterbury on a week-by-week basis.
Stuart hinted at least one of them could be back in lime green next week though and lamented the three tries in 17 minutes, after the Raiders had opened the scoring, for their demise.
“They went through some really poor defence … it was really disappointing and then some end of sets and basic fundamentals in the second half we didn’t finish off (hurt too),” he said.
“The way they came back was wonderful; they’re a very determined, committed football team but when you crucify yourself … it makes it too hard.”
Raiders centre Jarrod Croker was also rubbed out after a head knock late in the first half, while Melbourne’s Dale Finucane didn’t return after he too suffered a head knock in the opening minutes.