NRL Rd 19 - Bulldogs v Titans
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 24: Corey Waddell of the Bulldogs tackles Tino Fa'asuamaleaui of the Titans with his hands on his eyes during the round 19 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Gold Coast Titans at CommBank Stadium, on July 24, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Despite denying that he eye-gouged Gold Coast captain Tino Fa’asuamaleaui in the 23rd minute of the heated clash between the Gold Coast and Canterbury yesterday, the NRL Match Review Committee has referred Bulldog Corey Waddell straight to the judiciary.

Bulldogs players attacked the giant Titan early, clearly intent on delivering on their pre-game promise to exact revenge for his headlock on Bulldog Matt Burton during the Origin decider.

While Fa’asuamaleaui seemed content to deal with the pressure being thrown his way, he took exception to Waddell, who joined a tackle late as the third man and immediately wrapped his hand around the entirety of Fa’asuamaleaui’s face.

“Obviously my hand wasn’t in the best position, and once I realised it was on his face I released it,” Waddell said after the game.

“It wasn’t intentional. I just went to get my arm over and get him on his back. He blew up a bit and I didn’t realise what he was blowing up for. I didn’t think my fingers were in his eyes or anything like that.”

The Titans captain was also more reflective after the game, telling Fox Sports that these types of incidents happen.

“It’s just footy. It happened to hit my forehead and hit me in the eye but it was just accidental,” he said.

Regardless of the victim’s thoughts, Waddell becomes the fourth player to be directly referred to the judiciary this year.

The previous cases were Mitch Barnett’s sickening off-the-ball hit (six games), Marcelo Montoya’s homophobic slur (four games) and Brandon Smith’s referee dissent (three games).

That record doesn’t bode well for Waddell, even if Fa’asuamaleaui no longer has a problem.

Meanwhile the Bulldogs and NRL are investigating another incident in the game where it appeared that a spectator had hurled a full bottle of water at Bulldogs winger Josh Addo-Carr as he streaked away for an intercept try.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that security started poring through video footage right away in an attempt to find the culprit, but while the person is still at large, officials could confirm the bottle did not come from the direction of the Titans’ supporter bay.

Though no suspects have been identified, officials believe the bottle may have been tossed in celebration by a Bulldogs fan (with terrible aim). Both the club and venue security are still investigating the incident.