Manly centre Steve Matai is facing up to two matches on the sidelines while co-captain Jason King will avoid suspension after both players were charged by the NRL match review committee on Monday.
Four players were charged from the first week of the NRL Finals, with Melbourne duo Kevin Proctor and Siosaiva Vave also cited for a dangerous throw, but it was Manly’s Kiwi international that was hit the hardest.
Matai was slapped with a Grade 2 careless high tackle by the match review committee for his challenge on Bulldogs winger Sam Perrett in the 19th minute of the Sea Eagles’ 16-10 loss at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
The Manly centre will miss one week if he takes the early plea, but could risk a two-match ban if he fights the charge at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night and loses.
The base penalty for the grade 2 careless high tackle charge is 125 points, but Matai has 45 carry-over points plus loading from a previous offence in the last two years, meaning a guilty verdict at the judiciary would rule him out for two matches and render him a spectator until the NRL Grand Final.
The charge to Matai is a blow to the reigning Premiers with influential Co-captain Jamie Lyon in doubt for Friday’s showdown with North Queensland after he suffered a calf injury in the first-half of the Qualifying Final against the Bulldogs and played no further part in the match, while Joe Guluvao is also believed to be carrying an ankle injury.
But club sources are confident that Lyon is the only player in doubt for Friday night’s sudden-death clash with the Cowboys at Allianz Stadium on Friday night, with the other players said to be only carrying ‘bumps and bruises’.
Jason King was hit with a Grade 1 careless high tackle by the match review committee, but will be free to play with an early plea.
King was charged for his tackle on Bulldogs prop Aiden Tolman in the 18th minute of their clash.
The winner of the Sea Eagles-Cowboys clash will take on the Storm in Melbourne for a place in the NRL Grand Final.
Melbourne Storm’s Kevin Proctor and Siosaiva Vave were both charged with a Grade 1 Dangerous Throw for their tackle on Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess in the 64th minute of their side’s 24-6 win over South Sydney at AAMI Park on Saturday.
Both players will be free to play if they take the early plea, but would risk missing the Preliminary Final if they fought the charge at the NRL judiciary and lost.
If the Melbourne duo decide to take the early plea, they will be walking a tightrope during the penultimate game of the season, any additional charge would see them miss the NRL Grand Final.
Melbourne and Manly will have until midday on Tuesday to enter a plea.