Sam Hughes incident with referee Kasey Badger raises eyebrows after Jahrome Hughes ban

The incident involving the Canterbury star comes after his Storm namesake copped a one-game ban for a similar act.

Sam Hughes has left the NRL world divided after an incident with referee Kasey Badger that has seen the Canterbury Bulldogs star slapped with a $3000 fine, but crucially avoided suspension. Hughes was seen pushing Badger out of the way while standing in the defensive line during Saturday's win over the Wests Tigers, in an incident that had similarities to one involving Melbourne Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes earlier this season.

The Storm star was hit with a grade two contrary conduct charge for pushing referee Chris Butler during Melbourne's 30-26 win over the Warriors in round two. Melbourne's halfback was subsequently banned for one game due to the contact with the referee, with NRL head of football Graham Annesley defending the decision at the time by saying "it's never acceptable to push a referee".

On the left is Canterbury star Sam Hughes pushing NRL referee Kasey Badger.
Canterbury star Sam Hughes escaped a suspension for pushing NRL referee Kasey Badger during the win over Wests Tigers. Pic: Fox League/Getty

However, Bulldogs namesake Sam Hughes escaped a ban after also pushing referee Badger while defending the line during an attack from Tigers playmaker, Lachlan Galvin. The contact from Hughes on Saturday wasn't as forceful as the incident involving the Storm star but he was captured shoving the female referee out of the way when Galvin cut back inside to run towards the try line.

Despite the NRL's tough stance on players making contact with match officials, Hughes was on Sunday handed a Grade 1 contrary conduct charge from the NRL match review committee, but escaped with a $3000 fine and no suspension. The incident has left fans divided on social media, with some questioning why Hughes wasn't also hit with a ban, while others thought he was hard done by and accused the referee of being in the wrong place.

The incident wasn't the only big talking point from Saturday's game, with Tigers halfback Aidan Sezer facing a ban of at least four weeks for a hip-drop tackle on Canterbury's Josh Curran. Sezer was hit with a grade-three dangerous contact charge after falling onto Curran's legs with the force of his body while trying to drag him down from behind.


Sezer was placed on report but remained on the field, but the length of his ban is likely to spark debate about why the bunker didn't deem it a sin bin offence. The 32-year-old has already been charged for three separate offences this year which could come back to bite him at the judiciary this week.

Seen here, Wests Tigers halfback Aidan Sezer.
Wests Tigers halfback Aidan Sezer faces a lengthy NRL ban for a hip-drop tackle on Canterbury's Josh Curran. Pic: Getty/Fox League

The veteran halfback will be rubbed out of four games (against Newcastle, Dolphins, North Queensland and St George Illawarra) if he accepts the early guilty plea but he faces a fifth match on the sidelines if he unsuccessfully appeals. Tigers prop David Klemmer can accept a $3000 fine for abusing referee Badger, after being sin-binned for the offence late in the Tigers' 22-14 loss.

While Bulldogs captain Reed Mahoney is facing $4300 in fines after copping two separate charges, including a scuffle with Alex Seyfarth that saw the Tigers forward fined for a headbutt on the Bulldogs player. Mahoney also copped a grade-one charge for a dangerous throw on Tigers winger Solomon Alaimalo.

with AAP