The Roar
The Roar


NRL Round 4 judiciary: Hip-drop drama as Benji and Bennett wade in, Latrell charged, Morrin in strife

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1st April, 2024
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Wayne Bennett defended Dolphins lock Max Plath after he was put on report for a hip drop tackle on Gold Coast winger Phil Sami on Saturday night but the match review committee was not so forgiving, dishing out a grade-three charge.

Plath’s tackle was added to in the Easter Monday clash, when Tigers gun rookie Lachlan Galvin was binned, then charged following a hip-drop on Kelma Tuilagi.

The Dolphins won 30-14 but Plath now faces a ban of 2-3 matches after he was sin-binned in the 27th minute of the clash at Robina. Sami received treatment from the Titans trainer but went on to play the rest of the match. 

Galvin also copped 2-3 games, with coach Benji Marshall making a direct comparison between the two tackles.

“We just don’t know how it’s going to go with those things,” he said in the Tigers’ post-match presser.

“We saw the Max Plath one where he got a couple of weeks so if that’s anything to go off I don’t think Lachie’s was as bad as that but I didn’t see it closely enough. Hopefully he gets no weeks.”

Plath was distraught after making the tackle on Sami, which he clearly believed was an accident. Bennett threw his support behind the player. 

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Max Plath of the Dolphins is sent off during the round four NRL match between Gold Coast Titans and Dolphins at Cbus Super Stadium, on March 30, 2024, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Max Plath is marched. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)


On Fox League commentary, Dan Ginnane called it ‘horrific’, while Cooper Cronk focused on the lack of severe injury.

“The only saving grace for young Plath is that Sami stayed out there,” said Cronk. “It will be interesting to see what the judiciary do off the back of this, but that was a bad one.”

“They will have to look at it but it is a difficult area that hip drop,” Bennett said after the match. “Max Plath hasn’t got a dirty bone in his body so it was never intentional. We don’t coach it and we don’t talk about it. We don’t practise anything like that. 

“If it has gone wrong, it has gone wrong, and we will have to pay the consequences.” 

Titans forward David Fifita, returning from a pectoral tear in his first NRL game of the season, was also put on report for a trip on Dolphins winger Jamayne Isaako late in the match but has not been charged.

Manly five-eighth Luke Brooks ($1000-$1500 for a careless high tackle) and Dragons prop Blake Lawrie ($1800-$2500 for contrary conduct for pulling Josh Aloiai’s hair in a tackle) have been charged from Saturday night’s game in Wollongong.


Confusion over what constitutes a hip drop is again flaring after South Sydney star Jack Wighton escaped a ban for a similar tackle during the Rabbitohs’ Good Friday win over the Bulldogs.

Rabbitohs teammate Latrell Mitchell was charged with dangerous contact and faces a fine of $1800-$2500 over his hit on Indigenous All Stars teammate Josh Addo-Carr which sent the Bulldogs winger from the field in the lead-up to half-time.

Canterbury’s Kurtis Morrin was also pinged over a grade-two dangerous throw early in the second half which means he could be outed for two or three matches.

Wighton left Dogs fans incensed after dragging Jacob Preston to ground close to the try-line, with the incident closely scrutinised.

However, NRL head of football Graham Annesley said on Friday he didn’t believe the veteran centre had a case to answer, and so it proved, with Wighton not even cited in the NRL’s list of judiciary charges announced on Saturday.

Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo would not comment specifically on the incident, which forced an error on attack in the first half of the Rabbitohs’ tense 20-16 triumph on Good Friday.


But he made a point to say Preston had finished the game with an ankle injury, but despite being clearly unimpressed with the tackle, he would not discuss the legality of the hit.

Preston was sin-binned in the Good Friday clash last year for a hip-drop, only for the NRL to admit the following day the tackle was fine.

“Oh I remember that well,” Ciraldo said. “I honestly didn’t see today’s that closely.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 29: Jack Wighton of the Rabbitohs celebrates scoring a try with team mates during the round four NRL match between South Sydney Rabbitohs and Canterbury Bulldogs at Accor Stadium, on March 29, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Jack Wighton celebrates scoring a try with teammates. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Wighton is only two games back after copping a three-game suspension during last year’s finals series for Canberra after being found guilty of biting Knights opponent Tyson Gamble.

In commentary, Andrew Johns suggested the tackle had looked like a hip-drop motion, though replays suggested Wighton did not land on Preston’s leg.

Preston said afterwards he would not require scans on his ankle, and also would not comment on the tackle from Wighton.


“I won’t comment on it. I haven’t seen it yet. That’s footy, mate,” Preston said.

Canterbury fullback Blake Taaffe was also charged and will be a thousand bucks out of pocket for grade-one dangerous contact.

Roosters forward Nat Butcher was charged with a careless high tackle from Thursday night’s loss to Penrith but is only facing a fine of $1000-$1500.