Peter Sterling: Time to review our judiciary system?
It is a travesty that Luke Lewis is not playing for NSW at Suncorp Stadium.<br><br>Despite being a ‘cleanskin’ when it comes to appearances at the judiciary, he has paid the heaviest of prices for what was a relatively minor infringement.<br><br>After contesting his Grade One dangerous throw charge out of Penrith’s Round 13 clash with Newcastle, he was found guilty and received a one match ban.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&roundid=849&fixtureid=50020101303&videoquality=1&type=penaltyconceded&period=1&time=1547" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see the tackle which got Lewis suspensed.</a><br><br>His problem was that he carried a 50% loading from a similar offence committed way back at the end of 2008.<br><br>Luke Lewis is surely not the type of player we want sitting on the sidelines on a night when he should be part of one of the most important games of his career. Whilst he is super competitive and plays the game as tough as anyone, his rap sheet when it comes to judicial matters is a minor one to say the least.<br><br>There is actually a widespread belief that it was his comparatively lower profile that cost him in relation to the different finding that exonerated Jarryd Hayne. I give the judiciary panel more credit than that, but there is a compelling argument that if anyone should have been found guilty it had to have been the Parramatta superstar.<br><br><a href="http://www.nrl.com/gameAnalyser/tabId/10910/default.aspx?seasonID=240?seasonid=240&roundid=849&fixtureid=50020101301&videoquality=1&type=penaltyconceded&period=2&time=1605" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to see Jarryd Hayne's incident involving Billy Slater.</a><br><br>Whilst they were very different incidents, the one glaring aspect that separated them was that of intent.<br><br>Regardless of the severity of the headbutt initiated by Hayne, I still personally believe he made a conscious decision to make contact with the head of Billy Slater. In my opinion, it was no accident but a deliberate action.<br><br>Luke Lewis’s tackle on Matt Hilder was a lift that never put the ball-carrier in a particularly dangerous position. Hilder came down on his shoulder and was unhurt (not that damage done should have an influence on guilt).<br><br>He did put his arm between the legs - which is a no-no - but it was an effort that only went slightly wrong and accidents are going to happen in an aggressive contact sport. There was definitely no intention to pick up the Novocastrian and drive him dangerously into the turf.<br><br>Having said all that, I do believe that both Jarryd and Luke should be taking on Queensland this evening.<br><br>I’m also sure that Issac Luke should never have been forced to miss a Test match against Australia last year, or that Cameron Smith should have been ruled out of the 2008 Grand Final.<br><br><a href="http://bigpondvideo.com/nrl/273378" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to watch the incidents which cost Luke Lewis an Origin jersey, Issac Luke a Test jersey and Cam Smith a Grand Final.</a><br><br>It is a subject that has been raised in the past, but the time has come to make changes to the way we penalise players for different matches. <br><br>There needs to be a change in perspective when it comes to dealing with games that are obviously valued more highly than a regular club match. I understand there are some games, especially towards the end of the season, that can be deemed more important than usual, but I’m talking about representative and finals football.<br><br>At the moment, Luke Lewis has made just four Origin appearances but has turned out for his beloved Panthers 170 times.<br><br>In his case, that realistically equates one game for NSW to 40 club matches for Penrith. For some players, that is two seasons.<br><br>This shows just how rare such opportunities are at the elite level, and why they cannot be gauged the same way as club football.<br><br>Whilst these are his individual numbers, you will find a similar correlation for the vast majority of players who have represented or played finals footy.<br><br>Most of those still believe that the pinnacle of any career is to play for your country, and for Kiwi Issac Luke there was heartbreak last season following Souths' Round 8 clash with the Gold Coast.<br><br>He was hit with a Grade One striking charge against Anthony Laffranchi and despite pleading not guilty, was given a one match penalty. After the game, Laffranchi said that he didn’t even recall the incident.<br><br>This cost Issac his spot in the VB Test played the following week. Like the current Luke Lewis tackle, it was an innocuous incident and certainly didn’t warrant missing out on a prized Test jersey.<br><br>Then there is Cameron Smith being denied a Grand Final appearance in’08 as a result of his contrary conduct charge for unnecessary head or neck contact. This was in the semi-final against Brisbane and earnt him a two match ban.<br><br>Of the three incidents mentioned, this was easily the worst and did deserve some time out of the game. But not a season decider.<br><br>Players regard a Grand Final right up there with the best thing they can achieve in their career.<br><br>That is why I propose the introduction of a system similar to the one that operates in the thoroughbred racing industry.<br><br>The “sport of kings” has the ability to impose a stay of proceedings for jockeys to allow them to ride in their premiere races.<br><br>For example, if a jockey is suspended before the Melbourne Cup, he will be allowed to ride in the big one before serving his enforced time out of the saddle. <br><br>I would have much preferred for Cameron to have been allowed to play against Manly and then miss a number of club games afterwards. I’m sure he would also have opted to take his place even if it meant missing the first three or four games of 2009.<br><br>There would need to be some refinement of the system to suit our sport, but I don’t see too many obstacles in giving us a more equitable way to deal with some offences. Obviously we would not be accommodating those of a very serious nature.<br><br>Fortunately, these are easy to recognize and are comparatively few in relation to the number of charges dealt out during the season.<br><br><a href="http://bigpondvideo.com/nrl/273378" target="_blank">CLICK HERE to watch the incidents which cost Luke Lewis an Origin jersey, Issac Luke a Test jersey and Cam Smith a Grand Final.</a><br>