Nelson Asofa-Solomona at centre of NRL furore over 'disgusting' act

·Sports Editor
·5-min read
Nelson Asofa-Solomona, pictured here appearing to drive his elbow into Joseph Suaalii's face.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona appeared to drive his elbow into Joseph Suaalii's face. Image: Getty/Fox League

Veteran journalist Phil Rothfield has called on the NRL to do more to stamp out acts of foul play after Melbourne Storm forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona escaped with a fine for an ugly elbow to the face of Joseph Suaalii.

NRL fans were left seething on Friday night when Asofa-Solomona appeared to intentionally drive his elbow into Suaalii's head after dropping him in a heavy tackle against the Roosters.

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On-field officials didn't notice the nasty moment at the time, but the Storm forward was hit with a $3000 fine by the NRL on Saturday.

However controversy has since erupted that the NRL failed to suspend Asofa-Solomona, who has now been found guilty of foul play on 10 occasions in his career and charged five times this year.

He was involved in a similar incident with Warriors hooker Wayde Egan last month when he once again drove his arm into his opponent's face while taking him to ground.

“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 said on the Big Sports Breakfast on Monday.

Nelson Asofa-Solomona, pictured here in action for the Storm against the Roosters.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona in action for the Storm against the Roosters. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

“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 10 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.

“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.”

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Teammate Cameron Munster escaped a fine but was issued a 'concerning act' warning by the NRL after he also elbowed Sam Walker in the face while trying to play the ball quickly.

The Roosters are also reportedly furious that Felise Kaufusi wasn't cited for an apparent hip drop tackle, but Lindsay Collins is facing a four-game ban for a similar incident.

“The inconsistency is just extraordinary,” Rothfield said.

“I agree with Martin Lang, that down the track, I am not saying it is going to happen in the next year or two years, but down the track the NRL is leaving itself open to legal action.

“I used to cover judiciary every week, and I can assure you if any player walked in with the rap-sheet Asofa-Solomona has, for the tackle he did on Suaalii … he would be facing multiple weeks on the sidelines, not a pathetic $3,000 fine.

“These are blatant acts of foul play … it is unacceptable for this c**p on a football field, there is no place in rugby league for what we saw on the field.”

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves also escaped with a $3000 fine for appearing to lead with his head at Asofa-Solomona when the Storm forward was on the ground.

It is the fourth time Waerea-Hargreaves has been charged this year, but he has been able to accept a fine each time under the NRL's new limitless grade-one charge system.

with AAP

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