Paul Kent has blasted the NRL over their 'disgraceful' decision to allow Taylan May to serve a two-match suspension next year and play in the Panthers' upcoming finals campaign.
May is free to play in Penrith's qualifying final against Parramatta on Friday night, despite the NRL hitting the 21-year-old with a two-match ban and fine on Tuesday after he was found guilty of a pub assault.
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The Panthers winger was last week found guilty of an assault in a Queensland pub last October while celebrating the club's premiership triumph.
On Tuesday he was fined $3750 by the NRL and ordered to undergo immediate counselling and education.
However the NRL decided that May can serve his two-match ban from the start of next season, pointing to the fact the incident occurred last October and the trial didn't begin until last week.
"In proposing the timing of the match suspension, the NRL considered a number of factors including when the incident took place, the date at which the proceedings were finalised and the impact of a match suspension at this time of year," the NRL said in a statement.
Discussing the situation on NRL 360 on Tuesday night, journalist Kent was seething.
“Disgraceful management by the NRL, how (CEO) Andrew Abdo allowed this to happen,” Kent said.
“He got found guilty in court, Penrith put out some wacky statement saying he was harassing the players when he first got charged.
“He has got to court and admitted the kid had somehow filmed him and he asked him to take it off his phone and he wouldn’t do it, but none of this warrants what happened here.
“And yet the NRL, under some system that has never been applied before, are allowing him to serve a two-game suspension in Rounds 1 and 2 next year, rather than right now.
“Because for some reason they have decided that finals games are worth more than normal games, the old buy now pay later scheme.
“It is absolutely ridiculous, it is an indictment on the management of the NRL that don’t know what they are doing.”
Kent labelled the situation 'embarrassing' for the NRL after fans also blew up about the decision on Tuesday.
“The belief is that finals games are more valued than home and away games, therefore we are allowing him to do that,” Kent said.
“It is embarrassing that you can pick and choose now when to serve your suspension.
“It is so out of the realms of the integrity of sport, it is embarrassing for the code they have done this.”
Parramatta Eels unhappy with Taylan May reprieve
David Riccio of the Daily Telegraph revealed that Parramatta weren't impressed by the decision either.
“When the news came through, they (Eels) just shook their head,” Riccio said.
“Is it a green light for any player to commit a criminal offence through this finals period, so long as the fine doesn’t exceed $1000?”
Paul Crawley added: “It is just head-shaking stupidity… it is cowardly."
May had been out with teammates when he dragged a man to the ground inside a Sunshine Coast pub.
After fighting the charge he was found guilty of assault occasioning bodily harm in Maroochydore Magistrates Court, however he had no conviction recorded.
The news is a massive boost for the Panthers who were hopeful of having the powerful winger line up on the left edge on Friday night.
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