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Sims' Dragons stint over after copping month-long ban, Fisher-Harris, Cotric suspended, Salmon fined

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Tariq Sims looks to have played his last match with St George Illawarra after accepting a four-match ban for knocking Cronulla’s Connor Tracey out with his shoulder in round 21.

Melbourne-bound Sims was sent to the sin-bin for making contact with Tracey’s head, leaving the winger motionless on the ground and in need of stretchering from the field.

On Sunday morning, the match review committee hit Sims with a grade three careless high tackle charge, which carried a four-match ban given the back-rower’s history of two previous charges this season.

With the Dragons’ finals hopes all but dashed, the decision to accept the ban means Sims is highly unlike to play again this season.

St George Illawarra are two games and a huge points differential behind the eighth-placed Sydney Roosters, who will need to endure a form slump to give the Dragons any chance of qualifying for the finals.

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Canberra and Manly are also standing between the Dragons and their first finals appearance since 2018.

Had Sims unsuccessfully challenged his charge at the NRL judiciary, the ban would have stretched into the first game of his career with the Storm. 

Tracey was up and about in the sheds after the hit but is looking at some time on the sidelines himself, with Matt Ikuvalu, Mawene Hiroti and Lachie Miller his potential replacements for this weekend’s match against Wests Tigers.

Sims is likely to be replaced at lock by Jack De Belin, who played 11 games there this season before shifting to the front row.

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Elsewhere, James Fisher-Harris has accepted a two match ban for his high tackle on Canberra’s Ryan Sutton, becoming the latest premiership Panther forced onto the sidelines.

By pleading guilty to his grade three careless high tackle charge, he will join Nathan Cleary (suspension), Viliame Kikau (hip injury) and Jarome Luai (knee injury) as unavailable for the match against the Storm.

Penrith five-eighth Jaeman Salmon was charged with contrary conduct for the kicking incident with Raiders hooker Tom Starling which provoked the Ricky Stuart‘s ‘weak-gutted dog’ comments, but has avoided a ban, entering an early guilty plea to receive a $1000 fine.

Raiders winger Nick Cotric was also binned for a high tackle and copped a one-game ban with the early guilty plea.

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PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 01: Joseph Suaalii of the Roosters runs the ball during the round 16 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Sydney Roosters at BlueBet Stadium on July 01, 2022 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Joseph Suaalii. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Suaalii undecided on Australia or Samoa

Joseph Suaalii has revealed that he has not made his call for the Rugby League World Cup at the end of the year, preferring to wait to see which sides select him.

He confirmed that neither Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga nor Toa Samoa boss Matt Parish had been in touch regarding selections, and that he was simply happy to wait and see.

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“I honestly haven’t thought about it too much but I want to be there playing at the World Cup,” said the towering winger after the Roosters’ defeat of Brisbane last night.

“I’m trying to make that Australian team and if I’m lucky enough I’ll make that Samoan team as well. If I get picked for either of them it would be an honour. If I’m playing at the World Cup I’ll be happy.”

Brandy takes aim at Cameron Smith over ‘unfair claims

Panthers deputy chairman Greg Alexander has shot back at SEN Radio colleague Cameron Smith over the Penrith legend’s claim that most of the illegal tackling tactics in the past two decades have originated from Melbourne.

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Smith denied the “unfair claims” made by Alexander in the wake of the recent rise in hip-drop tackles, such as Broncos forward Patrick Carrigan’s incident last weekend which left Tigers opponent Jackson Hastings with a broken leg.

Alexander said he could not see how the Storm premiership-winning great was surprised by his comments.

“He is a colleague and I do enjoy chatting on Monday morning with Cameron and Matty Johns, but I didn’t think it was any type of revelation when I made those comments about the hip-drop emanating out of Melbourne Storm,” he said on SEN Radio.

“I just thought it was a general consensus that over the last 20 years all the tackles, the wrestle techniques have come from Melbourne.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 30: Patrick Carrigan of the Broncos passes the ball during the round 20 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium, on July 30, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“I may be generalising or even jumping to a conclusion but I don’t think I am.”

Alexander pointed to the fact that two of the first three hip-drop tackle offences charged in 2020 were by Storm players.

“I think history shows, and it’s not a stretch for me to jump to a Melbourne Storm conclusion that for 20 years – the grapple, the chicken wing, the rolling pins, the crusher, the hip drop – I think they all emanated out of Melbourne.

“Melbourne have led the way, they changed the game back in 2002 and 2003 where the wrestle became part of the game.

“All those variations of slowing the play the ball down, I think they all emanated out of Melbourne, they were ahead of the game.”

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