Wests Tigers coach Benji Marshall has taken aim at Jared Waerea-Hargreaves after the Roosters forward 'crossed the line' on Saturday night and copped a six-week suspension as a result. The Roosters won 32-8 to keep their finals hopes alive heading into the final round of the regular season, but they will face the Rabbitohs next week without Waerea-Hargreaves and possibly Joey Manu as well.
Deputising for the concussed James Tedesco at fullback, Manu limped off the field in the first half with a hamstring injury. And things went from bad to worse in the second half when Waerea-Hargreaves was sin-binned for hitting Api Koroisau late and high.
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After Waerea-Hargreaves' hit sparked a melee, the Roosters forward was spotted head-butting Stefano Utoikamanu in the face. The head-butt appeared to go unnoticed by the officials, who sent Waerea-Hargreaves to the bin for 10 minutes rather than sending him off altogether.
Speaking in the post-match press conference, Koroisau shrugged off Waerea-Hargreaves' actions. However Marshall wasn't impressed at all and said his former Kiwi international teammate was lucky to only be binned.
"I thought he crossed the line tonight, especially with the hit. But he got what he deserved, 10 minutes," Marshall said. "The ref saw enough in it to be a sin-bin, potentially probably a send-off."
THOUGHTS: Is big JWH in trouble?🐓 pic.twitter.com/tHzLsQdiJJ
— christian nicolussi (@mrchrisnico) August 26, 2023
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves hit with six-week suspension
On Sunday, the NRL match review committee charged Waerea-Hargreaves for both incidents and hit him with a three-game ban for each (if he takes early guilty pleas). The six-week suspension means Waerea-Hargreaves' season is over unless he successfully has both or one downgraded at the judiciary. If he challenges at the judiciary and fails, he will receive a four-game ban for each.
Waerea-Hargreaves would have only missed one match if he had a clean record. But the 34-year-old has now been charged five charges this year and will likely sit out the remainder of the season. The Roosters can potentially sneak into the finals if they beat the Rabbitohs next weekend, but they would need a minor miracle for Waerea-Hargreaves to play again.
Roosters forward Victor Radley missed three weeks earlier this year for a similar head-butt against the Dragons. Roosters coach Trent Robinson had earlier said he didn't think Waerea-Hargreaves had anything to worry about.
"I didn't see much to it (the head-butt), to be honest," he said. "He's always going to get scrutinised. That's really common.
"You want him to be on the edge and you want him to be in more control. That (the tackle) was a silly challenge. But people make more of it. It's constant. If he or 'Rads' does some of the late challenges that we saw play on and then get put on report later, usually more happens to them than other people."
NRL fans were left fuming over Waerea-Hargreaves' actions, labelling him 'disgraceful' and a 'liability'.
Has to get a few weeks for sure
— Miles Chappell (@Hookups111) August 26, 2023
Biggest thug in the game and protected species
— Cookie93 (@chris_cookie93) August 26, 2023
JWH is such a liability for the Roosters. He just can't help himself. #NRLRoostersTigers
— Ali (@leichy23) August 26, 2023
That is disgraceful from JWH. Enjoy watching the rest of the team fight for finals footy. Grub
— haydos (@haydos817) August 26, 2023
Swinging arm, high tackle and a head but…JWH deserves to be suspended #NRLRoostersTigers
— Brig (@Brig1965) August 26, 2023
JWH always looks so surprised and puzzled when he gets binned for doing something stupid and grubby #nrlroosterstigers
— Scott D (@scott86d) August 26, 2023
So next week no Manu, definalty no JWH if the high shot doesn’t get him suspended the head butt will and we need to beat south’s #NRLRoostersTigers
— gemma rogers (@gemma92rogers) August 26, 2023
Roosters rocked by Joey Manu blow ahead of final round
The Roosters also appear likely to be without Manu, who hurt his hamstring while tapping a kick dead midway through the first half. He played no further part in the game, which Robinson said wasn't a good indicator. "It's mild but he still had to leave the field, which is never a good sign," the coach said.
The loss of Manu would be offset by the return of Tedesco, who was stood down for 11 days after he was concussed against Parramatta last week. Joseph Sua'ali'i moved to the back after Manu went off and had a blinder, scoring a try to go along with eight tackle breaks, two line breaks, two line break assists and 242 running metres.
Manu and Sua'ali'i have both been forced to play non-preferred positions of wing and centre due to Tedesco's stranglehold over the No.1 jersey. Sua'ali'i is heading to rugby union in 2025, while incoming Dragons coach Shane Flanagan is reportedly targeting Manu to play fullback for the Red V.
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