Sydney Roosters hit with NRL finals blow as Sam Verrills receives two-match suspension

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The Sydney Roosters’ premiership hopes have been dealt a massive blow, with hooker Sam Verrills suspended for two matches for a careless high tackle.

The length of the suspension means Verrills will only be able to play again this season if the Roosters qualify for the grand final.

Verrills, who was visibly disappointed as the verdict was read out at Tuesday night’s judiciary hearing, will miss Friday’s semi-final against Manly and the preliminary final against South Sydney should the Roosters advance.

The suspension could force coach Trent Robinson to turn to rookie hooker Ben Marschke, who began the season outside the club’s 30-man roster and has played only 12 matches.

Verrills could have accepted a one-match ban for the charge, but his bid to downgrade it from a grade-two to a grade-one offence has proven costly.

In an 80-minute hearing, Verrills’s legal team argued he had minimal culpability for his shot that collected Gold Coast centre Brian Kelly’s face during last Saturday night’s elimination final in Townsville, which the Roosters won 25-24.

Lawyer James McLeod stated the force was caused by Kelly and Verrills’s teammate Sitili Tupouniua.

Verrills did not speak during the hearing, but watched on via video link as McLeod claimed Kelly had fallen into his shoulder after running at the line hard and deflecting off Tupouniua.

“He is not projecting his arm forward,” McLeod said.

“Sam has the least role in terms of the force that was generated and the outcome.”

The three-person judiciary panel of Ben Creagh, Bob Lindner and Dallas Johnson took just 13 minutes to decide they disagreed with McLeod’s stance.

Instead, they sided with NRL counsel Peter McGrath, who claimed Verrills was careless after trying to make high contact above the ball.

Meanwhile, the Roosters confirmed on Tuesday they would be without representative prop Siosiua Taukeiaho for the clash with the Sea Eagles because of a leg complaint.

AAP



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