Paul Kent fumes over 'gutless' NRL match review controversy

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Paul Kent has labelled the NRL judiciary 'gutless' over their handling of Nelson Asofa Solomona's charge last weekend. Pictures: Fox League
Paul Kent has labelled the NRL judiciary 'gutless' over their handling of Nelson Asofa Solomona's charge last weekend. Pictures: Fox League

NRL journalist Paul Kent has teed off on the league's judiciary system after Melbourne Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona escaped his fifth charge of the season with just a $3000 fine.

The Storm enforcer has been highly criticised over a seemingly deliberate drop of his elbow into Roosters young gun Joseph Suaalii's head last weekend, which he pleaded guilty to.

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It marked the 10th time in Asofa-Solomona's career that he has pleaded guilty to a charge, but the 26-year-old has only missed a total of four games as a result.

Kent wasn't the only high-profile NRL writer to criticise the judiciary, with the Daily Telegraph's Phil Rothfield also expressing concern about the long-term ramifications of a soft system.

With Asofa-Solomona having pleaded guilty to no less than five separate charges already this season alone, Kent said suspensions were the only way to get such acts out of the game.

He said it made no sense for the NRL to rightly be concerned about head trauma by implementing the HIA system among other moves, but more had to be done in situatiosn where players could injure other players - possibly in the long term.

“The fact is it’s not a big enough deterrent and the NRL carries on with all this rubbish about protecting the player and every game now is held up with all these HIA’s which you have to sit through because we care so much about the brain," Kent said.

“Yet we do nothing to actually discourage the other side of it which is the intent to cause it.

“Once it’s happened, get him off get him fixed up and let’s have a look at him. But there’s not enough deterrent to say get it out of your game.

“The fact that Asofa-Solomona has been up five times this year with charges and has not missed a game, but plead guilty to all five.”

Kent said the NRL judiciary was 'gutless' if it couldn't see a clear-cut case like Asofa-Solomona and realise a stiffer penalty would be in order.

NRL world fumes over Nelson Asofa-Solomona's soft penalty

Rothfield said the NRL desperately needed to consider the long-term ramifications of a sporting culture which let let such ugly incidents pass so easily.

Bearing in mind legal action that has been launched in the past against various sporting codes due to the lifeling impact of concussion for some, Rothfield said the league had to do a better job of protecting players and doubling down on stamping out brutish behaviour on field.

“The NRL I think, and I spoke to Martin Lang yesterday, who is a really intelligent fellow who has studied neuroscience and is conducting research into brain injuries from contact sport,” Rothfield told Big Sports Breakfast on Monday.

“He raised a really interesting point that the fact that players like Nelson Asofa-Solomona are repeat offenders, have been found guilty of foul play ten times in the last three years, but keeps getting away with fines.

“Lang is of the opinion that there will be litigation on a grand scale, that it is a legal time bomb, further down the track a good lawyer will get hold of a player who is suffering from the after effects of concussion and point out there was not a duty of care while he was playing football.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona escaped with a fine for his fifth charge of the 2022 NRL season. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Nelson Asofa-Solomona escaped with a fine for his fifth charge of the 2022 NRL season. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

“That players were continually allowed to get away with this sort of play, I don’t want to be an alarmist but all the statistics are there, this guy, Asofa-Solomona, was fined $3,000 for the disgraceful shot on Suaalii, he was on the ground.

“There was another incident in the game he escaped, he kneed Joey Manu in the head in a tackle.”

But the NRL's head of football Graham Annesley insisted players could not get away with repeating foul play, and that the league had the power to ban them if needed.

"Where the match review committee feels there is a need for a personal deterrent (they can issue one)," Annesley said at his weekly briefing.

"If the match review committee feels they are not getting a message, they have a right under the rules to say you need a stronger personal deterrent.

"Therefore your grade-one charge will be upgraded to a grade-two charge."

Annesley stressed he was not speaking about Asofa-Solomona individually, and said there was no hard-and-fast rule on when the review committee would issue the deterrence.

With AAP

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