Lawton facing big time on NRL sidelines

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Manly forward Karl Lawton is facing at least a month on the sidelines after the NRL hit him with the highest possible grade for a dangerous throw under the game's judicial system.

Lawton has been charged with a grade-three dangerous throw, after being sent off just nine minutes into Manly's 40-22 loss to South Sydney on Friday.

He will miss four games with an early guilty plea or up to five if he attempts to fight it and lose.

The punishment is the most severe the NRL could have handed down without referring him straight to the judiciary.

Lawton had already become just the second player in the NRL era to be sent off for a dangerous throw after uplifting Rabbitohs captain Cameron Murray.

Canberra star Nick Cotric is the only other player to have been removed from the field for the act in the past 25 years, copping a three-game ban at the judiciary for the tackle in 2019.

Lawton is also the second player to be sent this year, after Newcastle's Mitchell Barnett.

There had been no sign of intent or hand between the legs, but Lawton's tackle still went within centimetres of being potentially damaging.

The decision to send Lawton prompted immediate debate with Phil Gould, Billy Slater and Brad Fittler adamant he should not have been sent off, while Greg Alexander and Benji Marshall were happy with the decision.

"He's devastated, the poor kid," Manly coach Des Hasler said afterwards.

"He's such a hard worker and plays the game at that pace. There was certainly no malice in the tackle.

"At the same time, there will be some sort of consequences to face with that tackle.

"Would you send him off or sin-bin him? I thought maybe a decision could have been disputed there.

"Either way, he wasn't going to stay on the field."

Josh Mansour and Taotla Tevita were both hit with grade-one charges in Friday's contest for Mansour's contrary conduct on Kieran Foran and Tevita's dangerous contact on Brad Parker.

The pair face $750 and $1000 fines with early guilty pleas but could rise to $1000 and $1500 if found guilty by the panel.

Lawton's absence will be somewhat assuaged by the return of Haumole Olaka'atu from his suspension for Manly against Wests Tigers.

It means the Sea Eagles will boast their first-choice back row for the first time this year, with Josh Schuster making a solid return from injury against the Rabbitohs.

Meanwhile, rumours continue to swirl around Schuster's future, with reports his management have approached the club requesting he move to five-eighth.

"There's that intent and opportunity further down the road, but at the moment he is doing a great job playing where he is," Hasler said.

"Where he is playing serves the side really well."

Any chance of that move happening in the immediate future looks unlikely, with veteran Foran starring at No.6 and keen to play on in 2023.

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