INCOMING Newcastle coach Rick Stone could wear the brunt of any failed attempt by North Queensland to have forward Tariq Sims' shoulder charge downgraded if the Cowboys fight the NRL judiciary.
Sims' high and late shoulder charge on Brisbane fullback Justin Hodges at the weekend drew a grade-three charge from the NRL match review committee yesterday.
The Cowboys believe Hodges, who was left bleeding from a head cut, was the victim of a head clash and a penalty for a late tackle was sufficient.
With loading from two previous offences and carry-over points added, Sims is staring down the barrel of five weeks on the sidelines, even with an early guilty plea.
But should he challenge the charge and get it lowered to a grade one, it would reduce the penalty points total to 298, clearing him to play in next month's grand final should the Cowboys make it past the Roosters this week in the semi-final and South Sydney in the preliminary final next week.
Given Sims is heading to the Knights next season, the Cowboys would not be penalised should he go to the judiciary and lose.
If that scenario unfolded he would face seven weeks on the sidelines, which, even if the Cowboys win the grand final, would mean him missing the first month of next year's premiership.
Stone, who coached Tariq and his brothers Ashton and Korbin when they represented Fiji in last year's World Cup, takes over the coaching reins at the Knights from Wayne Bennett, who is returning home to Brisbane, where he won six premierships before taking St George-Illawarra to a premiership victory in 2010.
Manly skipper Jamie Lyons' clean record has saved him from missing the club's sudden-death clash with the Bulldogs, but teammate Anthony Watmough was not so lucky and will miss the clash with an early guilty plea.
Lyons and Watmough were both charged with a grade one dangerous throw for their 32nd minute lifting tackle on South Sydney star Greg Inglis.
The match review committee, however, found Sydney Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves had no charge to answer after he was put on report for a swinging arm on Penrith Panthers forward Brent Kite.
More good news flowed for Bulldogs coach and former Manly premiership-winning coach Des Hasler, with young bull David Klemmer escaping a high-tackle report and match-winner Josh Morris deemed not to have resorted to a chicken-wing tackle.
Souths and Penrith will sit back with a week off.
The winner of the Roosters-Cowboys clash will play South Sydney, while the victor between Manly and the Bulldogs clash with Penrith for the right to play off in the grand final on October 5.
team of the year
APN'S rugby league writers have named an NRL team of the week for the past 26 weeks.
Now it's time to reveal their NRL team of the year and player of the year based on the most number of appearances in our weekly sides.
There'll be some surprising omissions in tomorrow's reveal, following one of the closest minor premiership finishes in decades.