Wests Tigers second-rower Luke Garner has failed in the first judicial challenge by a player charged under the NRL's late-hits edict.
Garner was banned on Tuesday night for one game for his late hit on Canterbury playmaker Lachlan Lewis in the Tigers' two-point loss on Saturday.
He will miss Thursday night's clash with Manly but, crucially, the verdict means the NRL's crackdown has survived its first test at the panel since its June introduction.
In an hour-long hearing, Garner argued he had no chance to pull out of the tackle on Lewis that had come "a fraction of a second" after the ball had been passed, as he expected him to dummy.
"When Lachlan Lewis kicks, he does like to kick as soon as he gets the ball. As soon as he went forward, I thought he was going to run," Garner told the hearing.
Luke Garner is fronting the judiciary over this tackle on the weekend which saw the forward charged with a Grade 1 Dangerous - Other offence.— Wests Tigers (@WestsTigers) August 13, 2019
He has pled not guilty. ❌#OurJungle pic.twitter.com/ku83Zbvg6i
"I committed to the tackle. I didn't want him to get through the line."
Garner also claimed he was unsighted when Lewis passed until after contact had been made.
His lawyer Nick Ghabar went one step further and said Lewis played an equal role in the collision and the hit was simply a part of rugby league.
"Lewis put himself in position when he was facing oncoming defender," Ghabar said.
"In rugby league, there is a risk of injury.
"A playmaker who runs and digs into the line at the distance this player did assumes and accepts some risk of being tackled and some risk of injury.
"That (unavoidable contact) sometimes happens in a game of rugby league. These are two players doing their job."
NRL counsel Peter McGrath, however, argued Garner had time to pull out of the tackle, "very, very brief as it was".
The three-man panel of Bob Lindner, Tony Puletua and Sean Garlick took 40 minutes to side with McGrath.
Garner's sin-binning, and that of Bulldog Chris Smith for a similar incident on Saturday, prompted calls that the rule had gone too far.
Canterbury fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak uttered the word "soft" on Sunday on radio in relation to Smith's punishment, a claim rebuked by the NRL's head of football Graham Annesley.
Later on Tuesday night, a disappointed Garner accepted the game had to head that way.
"Some people can say that (it's soft)," he said.
"It's obviously from the older days where there was a lot more going on to now - it's obviously a little bit softer.
"But that's the transition it makes from year to year. They want to protect the players so that's what they've got to do."