Corey Horsburgh will miss the rest of Canberra’s season unless they make it all the way to the Grand Final after he failed in his bid to have a grade-one shoulder charge thrown out at Tuesday night’s judiciary hearing.
The Queensland Origin representative rolled the dice after initially being handed a three-game ban for a hit on Corey Jensen in last Saturday’s loss to the Broncos.
Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has been rubbed out for a total of seven games after his pleas fell on deaf ears at the hearing.
He had accepted a three-game ban for headbutting Wests Tigers prop Stefano Utoikamanu in Saturday’s round-26 clash, ruling him out until at least the preliminary finals.
The Tricolours firebrand opted to challenge his grade-two dangerous contact charge, in a bid to avoid an additional three-game suspension for a shot on Apisai Koroisau moments earlier in the same match.
If he had been successful in downgrading the charge, the veteran Kiwi would have been able to pay a $3000 fine and avoid any further ban.
Waerea-Hargreaves will now miss a further four games to make it seven all up after he was unsuccessful. The ban will carry into New Zealand’s end-of-season Test series and next year’s NRL.
Represented by James McLeod, his argument was that he did not make contact with Koroisau’s head.
“I accept that I was late, maybe even clumsy, but I was committed to the tackle,” he argued.
“I committed to the tackle and me traveling at a certain pace for a big guy I wasn’t able to stop on time. I definitely think it was careless, I don’t think it was reckless.”
The Roosters need to beat the Rabbitohs on Friday night and have other results fall in their favour if they are to reach the finals.
Horsbrough’s ban is a huge blow to the seventh-placed Raiders’ chances heading into Sunday’s trip to Shark Park where they need to beat Cronulla otherwise they could miss out on the playoffs if other results earlier in the round don’t go their way.
“I’m very disappointed with the result, I think four weeks is a bit much but onwards and upwards,” Horsburgh said.
The judiciary panel of Bob Lindner and Sean Hampstead unanimously found the 25-year-old guilty after 20 minutes of deliberation. He was supported by Raiders chief executive Don Furner and was cheered into Rugby League Central by Canberra superfan and club drummer Simon Tayoun.
The NRL’s legal counsel Patrick Knowles claimed the tackle was “at the very least careless” and the was “no attempt to use the arm at all”.
“This is a clear case of a shoulder charge,” he argued.
Horsburgh’s lawyer, Nick Ghabar, countered by saying that for the forward have to be shown to have shoulder-charged Jensen, it had to be proved that it was “forceful, no arms and careless”.
“On all three of those aspects the prosecution falls short of proving guilt on the balance of probabilities.”
Canberra were already without veteran prop Josh Papali’i, who was sent for surgery on a torn bicep tendon.
The Samoa international suffered the injury in the Raiders’ defeat to Brisbane and the surgery puts him out of action for the rest of the campaign.
Canberra named Emre Guler to start and picked potential debutant Hohepa Puru on the bench. Youngster Ata Mariota will play a bigger role and Pasami Saulo could also join the side from the reserves list.
In a boost for Stuart and his Raiders, halfback Jamal Fogarty (eye) trained on Tuesday and is expected to line up against the Sharks.