King free to play
MARIST Brothers lock Leon King successfully fought a striking charge at the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League judiciary in Lismore on Wednesday night.
He is now free to play against Ballina in the sudden-death minor preliminary semi-final at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, tomorrow.
King was sent off for an alleged headbutt in the Rams' 54-12 win over Mullumbimby at Crozier Field, Lismore, last Sunday.
"Part of the (judiciary) manual stipulates that a clean record for more than five years gets an automatic 50% reduction," NRRRL president Brian Rix said.
"And because he took the early guilty plea he got another 25% on top of that.
"It's a done deal but if he goes back for a similar offence he'll be looking at six to eight weeks."
It's the second time this season a player has escaped suspension for an alleged headbutt after Roy Bell fronted the judiciary in April.
Rams coach Adam Mayes is thrilled to have King available for the semi-finals.
"It's a great result for us and we'll have our full complement of players now," Mayes said.
"It was a fair hearing and we were well represented by Lismore barrister Nicolas Harrison.
"The idea was to keep the mood upbeat at training and we prepared as if he was going to be there."
Rix admits the judiciary manual needs to be changed so that only one of the good behaviour or early guilty reductions is allowed.
"It's a tough one but you shouldn't be able to put one on top of the other," he said.
"We'll keep following the system that we're using but we'll need to refine a few things.
"When you look at it a headbutt can break a cheekbone or jaw.
"This was more of an instinct thing that didn't maim or injure the player."
Three Under-18 players were meant to front the judiciary this week but their cases were adjourned until next week because two of them were away with school commitments.
Two Grafton Rhinos players are facing 18-match and 10-match bans while a Casino player will be fighting a 14-match ban.
All three were sent off for striking and abusing the referee in their game.