Dolphin’s Felise Kaufusi receives a four-game NRL ban after a court hearing
Dolphins forward Felise Kaufusi doesn’t believe his previous run-ins with NRL justice resulted in his being suspended for four games, which sidelined him from Friday’s blockbuster Brisbane derby against the Broncos.
Kaufusi faced the Sydney courts on Tuesday, failing in his attempt to have a second-class charge reduced to first-class over a late strike against Newcastle halfback Jackson Hastings.
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His former Melbourne team-mate Jahrome Hughes was also suspended for two games after losing a fight to reduce a similar second-rate charge for a late shot at Gold Coast playmaker Tanah Boyd.
But while Hughes will miss games against West’s Tigers and Souths, Kaufusi is staring at a month on the sidelines, starting with this weekend’s first Brisbane derby against the Broncos.
Flanked by Dolphins assistant coach Kristian Woolf, Kaufusi was visibly emotional as he came to terms with his sanction.
The tough Tongan international will also miss games against St George Illawarra, north Queensland and south Sydney.
A successful demotion would have seen Kaufusi, who has earned a reputation for playing the game at the limit, get away with a $3000 fine and no suspension.
“Not at all,” said Kaufusi when asked if his reputation influenced the panel’s verdict.
“It will take some time for that to sink in, I’m pretty disappointed with the verdict.
“I thought we had good reasons to fight (for) the demotion, but I don’t think the panel saw it that way.”
The argument, put forward by Kaufusi’s attorney Nick Ghabar, admitted the veteran’s contact with Hastings was belated but minor.
He contrasted Kaufusi’s strike with a first class charge given Sydney Roosters center Joseph Suaalii for a round two tackle on Warriors full-back Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
Ghabar argued that Suaalii had been “grossly careless” and claimed that Kaufusi withdrew his troops after making contact with Hastings, indicating a duty of care towards his opponent.
But that argument did not resonate with the jury of former referee Paul Simpkins and former Australia international Bob Lindner, who came to a unanimous verdict within half an hour.
Their verdict supported the original charge by the second-grade game review board, and because Kaufusi appealed the charge, his sentence was increased from a three-game suspension to a four-game suspension.
Ghabar was also forced to defend Hughes, who appeared alongside Storm football manager Frank Ponissi via video link.
Hughes, like Kaufusi on Tuesday, rolled in hopes that he would be free to play against the Tigers.
But Ghabar’s argument – centered on Hughes’ focus on not getting kicked in the face – had no bearing on Lindner and Simpkins, who again backed the Match Review Committee’s original sanction.
Hughes’ suspension cannot have come at a bad time for the Storm as they desperately try to recover from back-to-back weeks of losses to Canterbury and the Gold Coast.
https://7news.com.au/sport/rugby-league/nrl-pair-felise-kaufusi-and-jahrome-hughes-learn-fate-after-challenging-heavy-suspension-at-tribunal-c-10114918 Dolphin’s Felise Kaufusi receives a four-game NRL ban after a court hearing