Sonny Bill Williams faces a four-game shoulder charge ban, including the grand final rematch with Manly over an incident in the NRL season opener.
The Sydney Roosters are set to spend the weekend poring over video footage in a bid to have Sonny Bill Williams’ four-match shoulder charge ban dismissed, or at least downgraded.
The dual international was slapped with a grade-two shoulder charge by the NRL Match Review Committee on Friday for an 80th-minute hit on South Sydney prop George Burgess in the season opener on Thursday.
Williams will cop with a three-game ban if he takes the early guilty plea, or spend four games sidelined if he fights the charge and is unsuccessful.
With Williams’ plea not due until Monday, the Roosters have all weekend to consider their defence.
A three-game ban would rule him out of clashes with Parramatta, Brisbane and the grand final re-match with Manly.
The Roosters began reviewing footage on Friday afternoon almost immediately after Williams was charged.
The potential sanction on Williams put the spotlight firmly back on the outlawed shoulder charge after Souths’ 28-8 win in a torrid encounter.
Ben Te’o was placed on report for a hit on Williams minutes after it was seemingly missed by the ground officials and didn’t draw a penalty.
The Souths’ back-rower wasn’t charged over the tackle.
In another incident, Roosters young gun Dylan Napa was penalised over a suspect hit that didn’t draw the ire of the Match Review Committee either.
During the match, Channel Nine commentator Phil Gould claimed NRL officials had “for the first time ever” requested footage of an incident during the course of a game.
That incident was a first-half gang tackle by Williams, Napa and Aidan Guerra on Ben Lowe.
The tackle did not draw a charge from the committee.
A NRL spokesman said it was standard procedure for the Match Review Committee to request additional footage of incidents from the host broadcaster and this could sometimes be communicated during games.
After banning the shoulder charge last season, the NRL moved in the off-season to clarify what would be deemed illegal in 2014.
According to the edict, tackles where an arm is separated from the body will be not deemed a shoulder charge with officials contending it indicates an intention to make a legitimate tackle.
But confusion continues.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said the NRL needed to find consistency.
“I didn’t get any close-ups of Napa’s or Sonny’s but, if they are shoulder charges, fair enough – give them a penalty,” Robinson said.
“But the refs missed one of theirs and saw the next two of ours. If they are going to get them, then get them.
“Napa’s style of tackle is straight arm, separated from the body, they (referees) came about and showed us it was alright.
“If they come back and say ‘yes, they were shoulder charges’, then they need to get that right.
“But if they are wrong, then they better be careful.”
Anthony Minichiello was charged with a grade-one dangerous contact – raised knee after a ninth-minute incident with Lote Tuqiri.
The Roosters’ captain won’t miss a match if he takes the early plea.
Dylan Walker was the other player charged by the Match Review Committee.
The Rabbitohs’ pivot was charged with grade-one tripping on Williams.
He won’t miss a game either if he takes the early guilty plea.