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Suspensions show how far Jillaroos have come

Heather Ballinger played up to 75 minutes of last weekend's Interstate Challenge with a broken hand so a one match ban for tripping won't really affect the Jillaroos prop.

But the suspensions imposed on her and Ruan Sims are good for the credibility of the women's game.

Ballinger, who broke two bones in her hand during the opening exchanges of Queensland's 22-6 loss to NSW, was charged with grade two tripping and faces a one match suspension with an early guilty plea or two match ban if she unsuccessfully challenges the charge at the QRL judiciary.

Sims, who will captain the Jillaroos at the Women's Rugby League World Cup, was charged with a grade two dangerous throw for her spectacular hit on Maroons fullback Karina Brown.

She will miss two games of the Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership for Cronulla-Caringbah Sharks against North Newcastle this Sunday and Forestville on August 2.

The tackle was one of the major talking points of a game watched by significantly more fans both at the stadium and on television or devices than any of the previous 18 annual Women's Interstate Challenges, and is likely to feature in promotional videos for next season's Interstate Challenge.

Even US sports website, SB Nation (Sports Blog Nation), which has content sharing partnerships with CBS Sports, USA Today, Comcast, Yahoo Sports and the National Hockey League, ran a video of what it described as "perfectly brutal poetry".

However, with the increased interest and coverage comes added scrutiny and the fact is that what started as a copybook tackle ended with Sims lifting Brown above the horizontal, while Ballinger's trip was also an illegal act.

With an estimated 8,000 fans packing the WIN Stadium hill when the Women's Interstate Challenge kicked off ahead of the St George Illawarra-Manly match and 47,000 viewers watching on Fox Sports, as well as those using the NRL app, the game needed to ensure the incidents did not go unpunished.

The arrangements for dealing with foul play, which involved the NSWRL and QRL match review panels deciding whether to charge their own players, indicates officials were not prepared for such incidents to be in the spotlight but it would be damaging to women's rugby league if the players weren't treated the same as the men.

Both panels are independent of their governing bodies and they proved that by charging Sims and Ballinger, who will be available to play for the Jillaroos at the Rugby League World Cup after serving any suspension incurred for Brisbane Wests while sidelined by her broken hand.

While it may sound reasonable to take into account that Sims and Ballinger aren't professional and the pathway which now exists for female participation from Under 6s to Jillaroos was not available for any of the NSW or Queensland players the credibility of the game demanded they be charged.


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