Dan Walsh, Staff Writer, NRL.com
Souths' Isaac Luke and Brisbane's Sam Thaiday are set to challenge the suspensions levelled at them in a bid to play in their sides' respective crucial Round 26 clashes.
Both Luke (dangerous contact) and Thaiday (crusher tackle) will appear before the judiciary at 6 pm Tuesday night contesting grade one charges, while Parramatta's Ben Smith, Penrith's Adam Docker and Titans skipper Greg Bird are among eight players to take early guilty pleas.
Luke is risking a two-match ban if his appeal is unsuccessful, due to 65 carry-over points and 50 per cent loading for a similar offence in the past two years, Luke will be rubbed out until the Rabbitohs second finals match if found guilty for kicking out at Canterbury skipper Michael Ennis last Thursday.
Thaiday meanwhile will miss Friday's do-or-die encounter with Melbourne unless he can beat a one-week ban, issued for a crusher tackle on St. George Illawarra's Will Matthews.
The three-week ban accepted by Smith (crusher tackle) means the Eels veteran has likely played his last game in the NRL after announcing his retirement earlier in the year, meaning the Eels will have to make the third week of the finals for him to play again.
Docker will also spend the next two weeks on the sidelines for his dangerous throw on Jason King due to 80 carry-over points and loading from similar incident in the last two years, making him unavailable for the Panthers until the second week of the finals should they progress that far in the competition.
Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds, and Bulldogs forward Dale Finucane (both dangerous throws), will return for their clubs in the first week of the finals after accepting one-match bans, while Dragons hooker Mitch Rein (Dangerous Contact – contact with the kicker) and Titans skipper Greg Bird (dangerous throw) have both played their last games of the year due to one-week suspensions.
The Roosters' Michael Jennings (careless high tackle), North Queensland's Kane Linnett (dangerous throw) and Warriors prop Sam Rapira (crusher tackle) are all free to play in Round 26 with early guilty pleas.
In the Holden Cup, Bulldogs five-eighth Robbie Kamoto has accepted a three-week ban for a Grade 3 Dangerous Throw, after a tackle which saw him sent off midway through the second half of their defeat of the Rabbitohs.