Jack Hetherington hit with suspension by NRL over tunnel altercation with Reed Mahoney

The Newcastle forward has been rubbed out over the incident during the Bulldogs game.

Jack Hetherington has been handed a one-game suspension from the NRL after he was charged with contrary conduct over an incident with Reed Mahoney in the tunnel during Sunday's game. Hetherington and Mahoney were both sent to the sin-bin after scuffle in the dying stages of the Bulldogs' win over Newcastle.

Cameras then captured the moment Hetherington confronted Mahoney (albeit jokingly) in the tunnel as they were walking to the sheds. Mahoney appeared to be taken by surprise when Hetherington turned around and squared-up to him like he wanted to fight, before the Knights forward threw a little jab at Mahoney's chest.

Jack Hetherington and Reed Mahoney in the tunnel after they were sin-binned.
Jack Hetherington squared up to Reed Mahoney in the tunnel after they were sin-binned. Image: Fox League

The Bulldogs hooker then pushed Hetherington away, before both players were escorted to their dressing rooms. The NRL took a dim view of Hetherington's actions and handed down a suspension on Monday.

Hethrington's ban will rise to two games if he fights it at the judiciary and loses. Mahoney has been offered a $1000 fine for his actions on the field during the scuffle.

When asked about the incident in his post-match press conference, Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien said he didn't know anything about it. "No, nothing, I don't even know what you are talking about," he told reporters. "I don't know anything about this."

Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo said: “I have heard some stuff in there, but I don’t think it is too serious. Jack is a good fella. I ahve known Jack for a long time. He is a good guy.

"Sometimes he gets emotional, but he is a genuinely good person so I don’t think there is too much in it. Reed didn’t go into much detail. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him, but its done now.”

Jack Hetherington in action for the Newcastle Knights.
Jack Hetherington looks on during a Newcastle Knights game.

NRL pundits weigh-in after Knights and Bulldogs altercation

Discussing the incident at the time, Braith Anasta said on Fox League it looked “a little bit like they are joking, but then serious.” Corey Parker said: “It is hard to see whether Hetherington is joking. He has got a smile on his face, but well and truly pushes Reed. Reed was not real sure what to do. He was shaping up. He was bouncing. I don’t know if they are good mates or not.”

Leading journalist Phil Rothfield revealed earlier on Monday that Hetherington was facing more than a fine. “I’m surprised Jack was so stupid to do it there in the tunnel knowing they (TV networks) always cover that area of an NRL venue,” Rothfield said on Sky Sports radio.

“I’ve watched so many replays of it. I don’t think he was overly serious in what he was doing ... but it’s an interesting one. I think they will hit him with a contrary conduct charge. I think it might be a bit more than a fine.

“I think the NRL have got to show that when you are sin binned in an NRL game you leave the field immediately, you go straight down the tunnel until you get to the dressing room and I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re looking at a couple of weeks here. I don’t think I’m overreacting. Situations like that can get out of hand.”


The suspension compounds a nightmare weekend for the Knights. They were thrashed 36-12 by the Bulldogs and Kalyn Ponga suffered what appears to be a serious foot injury.