Canterbury forward Luke Thompson has been suspended for four matches after being found guilty by the NRL judiciary for an eye gouge on Panther James Tamou, per NRL.com.
The Englishman’s ban adds to a busy night of charges, with Storm forward Max King being hit with a three game suspension for a ‘hip drop’ tackle on St George prop Blake Lawrie.
Thompson will miss the first four matches of the Bulldogs’ 2021 campaign despite pleading not guilty for the alleged eye gouge.
“It was never my intention to eye-gouge, or what they accused me of,” Thompson said.
“I was just trying to win the tackle – take him to the ground. So I’m a bit confused, disappointed.”
Tamou offered some support to Thompson when adding his side of the case.
“I felt something around the face, so I thought I’d make a claim so the referee would give us a penalty,” Tamou told the NRL Judiciary
“At the time I was hoping for a penalty, but I don’t think it was an eye-gouge.
“If I thought Luke would go into the next game with the intent to do some damage, I wouldn’t be here tonight.
“I don’t believe he had any intent to injure me.”
King had entered an early guilty plea for his dangerous tackle, but the judiciary determined his ‘hip drop’ tackle was greater than a grade two offence.
League prosecutor Peter McGrath used footage as evidence to deem the tackle’s severity greater than similar incidents from earlier in the season.
“This is far and away above a grade two, or even three,” McGrath said.
“I don’t think King intended to make an injury but his actions were reckless, highly reckless.”
The 23-year-old was handed a 500-point penalty with a 25% discount, meaning the forward would miss three games for his charge.