Jeremiah Nanai cops brutal blow amid NRL uproar over 'unacceptable' act
NRL legend Andrew Johns said the Cronulla star was 'lucky' not to suffer a broken leg.
North Queensland and Maroons star Jeremiah Nanai has paid a heavy price for a hip-drop tackle on Cronulla's Braden Hamlin-Uele that has left the NRL world fuming. Nanai was sent to sin bin in the second half of his side's chastening 44-6 defeat to the Sharks after a controversial incident that left Hamlin-Uele on crutches after the match.
Hamlin-Uele was left incensed after Nanai flung his lower body across the legs of the Sharks prop while trying to bring him to the ground. Cronulla revealed afterwards that their rampaging forward had suffered a suspected medial collateral ligament injury, with scans set to determine the extent of the problem.
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"I haven't reacted that way ever in a game, and as accidental as it was, it was dirty," Hamlin-Uele told the Sydney Morning Herald after footage showed him trying to throw the footy at the Cowboys player in anger. "I know he [Nanai] doesn't want to go out there and injure me, but he did.
Is Jeremiah Nanai in trouble for this tackle on Braden Hamlin-Uele? 🤔
🖥️ #NRLSharksCowboys | FREE on 9Now: https://t.co/AWYN7l6m7R#9WWOS #NRL pic.twitter.com/5Hjb725FvV
— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) April 27, 2023
"And he has to accept the fact it was dirty. I shouldn't have reacted the way I did, and I apologise for that part of it, but it's one of those hard ones to judge... I did hear a pop. I didn't react the way I did because it was a fake injury. I'm in a brace now."
Nanai's tackle came under fire from commentators and fans and the Cowboys star was on Friday whacked with a grade three dangerous contact charge that will see him miss four games if he takes the early guilty plea. That would rule the classy edge forward out of the State of Origin opener in Adelaide on May 31, unless he successfully shaves time off the ban by having the severity of the charge downgraded.
NRL world fumes over latest hip-drop controversy
That seems like a highly unlikely scenario, with league great Andrew Johns describing the "dangerous" act as one of the worst hip-drop tackles he's seen. The rugby league 'Immortal' insisted Hamlin-Uele was "lucky" it didn't break his leg, with many fans echoing the thoughts of the legendary former halfback.
“That is a bad one. We have had a few this year where I thought they were accidents, that one there, that is dangerous,” Johns said on Nine's coverage. "He is lucky he hasn’t got a broken leg. The worrying thing for that one, there was no momentum. Sometimes you see momentum and they naturally swing. He stops, and he swings himself around.”
Nanai should get the biggest hip drop ban so far this year.
Completely unacceptable tackle. And caused a serious looking injury.
— Richo (@Steve_Richo1) April 27, 2023
If the NRL are serious about getting the hip drop out of the game. Then harsher on-field action will do it.
It should have its own charge with it’s own specific weighted penalties.
Nanai’s one tonight is a clear example.
— AJ 🐔 (@AjLucantonio) April 27, 2023
Braden Hamlin-Uele off with a left knee injury - contact mechanism to outside of knee brings concern for MCL injury with knee collapsing in. ACL can also be stressed here but hopefully avoided pic.twitter.com/EhPSgniqCn
— NRL PHYSIO (@nrlphysio) April 27, 2023
If you want an example of what textbook hip drop looks like. That tackle by Nanai is it. Put that in every ref pack.
— Trevor T (@trevajct) April 27, 2023
Braden Hamlin-Uele's knee was in bad shape after a hip drop from Jeremiah Nanai:
“It’s not great, I felt a pop in there, but it’s accidental ... The boys don’t mean to do it … It’s one of those things were you've gotta be mindful of it."#NRLSharksCowboys pic.twitter.com/5zr9bX6jZW
— ABC SPORT (@abcsport) April 27, 2023
Nanai will have his ban increased to five games if he unsuccessfully fights the charge. Despite the uproar over the controversial incident, Cowboys coach Todd Payten defended the actions of his player in his post-match press conference.
"I didn't think he made a great deal of contact on the back of (Hamlin-Uele's) leg," Payten said. "His arse and hips were away from the back of his leg.
"Braden jumped up pretty quickly to throw the ball at him, so it mustn't have been too bad initially."
Nanai was not alone in being charged, with Payten relieved prop Coen Hess (tripping) and fullback Scott Drinkwater (leading with the elbow) can both play next week after accepting fines. The trip to Cronulla proved to be a costly night for the Cowboys, who are off to an underwhelming 3-6 start in 2023 after reaching last year's preliminary final.
Chad Townsend limped off at Shark Park with a calf injury, while promising fullback Tom Chester suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear. It remains to be seen whether Townsend will join Jason Taumalolo, Griffin Neame and James Tamou on the sidelines when they face the Sydney Roosters in the NRL's Magic Round next weekend.
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