Jared Waerea-Hargreaves cops it over 'ordinary' act in NRL final

Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is pictured left, and a screenshot of the hit on Tom Burgess on the right.
Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves' shot on Rabbitohs counterpart Tom Burgess prompted an extraordinary call from South Sydney coach Jason Demitriou. Pictures: Getty Images/Fox League

The NRL has once again been called upon to crack down on players targeting the head of a tackled player on the ground, after Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was singled out by Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou.

South Sydney triumphed in a spiteful elimination final against the Roosters, with a total of seven players sent to the sin-bin in the 30-14 Rabbitohs victory.

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Waerea-Hargreaves was sin-binned after a video review showed he had slammed Rabbitohs international Tom Burgess' head into the turf with his forearm as he came down in the tackle.

Burgess appeared to stumble as he got to his feet before signalling to the referee that he'd been hit, with the incident bearing some resemblance to one Melbourne Storm enforcer Nelson Asofa-Solomona has been under fire for recently.

Demetriou was scathing in his assessment of the act, labelling it 'ordinary' and calling on players across the league to show more respect for one another.

In his post-game press conference, Demetriou questioned how much the referess and rule changes could do to prevent concussions if players weren't willing to show an equal level of responsibility.

“We are talking about concussions as a serious part of our game, and we are talking about the referees and the game as a whole doing things to protect the players,” Demetriou said.

“But if a player wants to hold somebody who is defenceless and slam his head into the ground, when does the responsibility come back on the player?

“It just think it is an ordinary act, and I think the game has to come down on it.

“You know what you are doing when you slam a bloke’s head into the ground, I just think as a player you have got to have some respect for the opposition.

“If you don’t, then who are you?”

Waerea-Hargreaves has been handed a grade-two dangerous contact charge for the head slam that left Burgess concussed, resulting in a minimum three-game ban.

The charge is the fifth of Waerea-Hargreaves' season, and again a further week will be added if the prop attempts to fight it at the judiciary and loses.

“I think they are just two big men going at it, but it isn’t just the Roosters, it is across the board it happens,” Demetriou said.

“It is happening too often, we see it all the time and a head slam when a bloke is defenceless, and it happens accidentally sometimes, but the deliberate ones, we have to come down on them.

“I just think, we are getting three men in a tackle, we are locking the ball up, he is defenceless and we are slamming him down with 120kg of weight on the back of his head.

“Tom is a big man but everyone saw how badly he got out of that tackle, not just saying for Tom, but for all players to take a real serious look at how we look after each other.”

Tom Burgess cops two-match ban in wake of spiteful Roosters clash

Burgess was on Monday morning left facing a minimum two-week ban for his high shot on Sydney Roosters captain James Tedesco, along with a further $1800 fine for another hit on Matt Lodge a minute later.

Both charges stem from incidents which occurred within two minutes of each other.

Roosters lock Victor Radley has avoided any charge despite accounting for two of the seven sin-bins at Allianz Stadium.

Radley's first indiscretion was for a right-handed jab aimed at Milne in the first half.

He later ran in and sparked a melee when he saw Souths prop Tevita Tatola pressing on the head of teammate Egan Butcher.

But neither incident was deemed worthy of further sanction in the eyes of the match review committee.

Radley and Waerea-Hargreaves were shielded from speaking to the media on Sunday, but five-eighth Luke Keary was left to rue their indiscipline.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves argues with the referee during the NRL final between the Roosters and Rabbitohs.
The referees were working overtime during a tense eliminiation final between the Roosters and Rabbitohs on Sunday. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

"Those boys will try that fine line," Keary said.

"But we just couldn't separate that physical side from then going, 'hang on what's the situation in front of us and how can we exploit it'?

"As a team, we just didn't do it. We were poor."

Souths winger Taane Milne is also facing a fine for his high shot on Joseph Suaalii, while Suaalii has been charged for raising his knees in a tackle as he returned a kick in the second half.

He was not penalised at the time, but the teenager now faces a $1800 fine.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson admitted on Sunday their lack of discipline in a game where there were 15 penalties proved their undoing.

"I feel like we definitely had opportunities," he said.

"So we lost the game through not controlling the physicality or the overcompensation for that physicality, and then also how to execute."

With AAP

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