Round 18 charges: Kikau banned for two matches

Panthers back-rower Viliame Kikau will not play before his hometown crowd when they face the red-hot Raiders at Penrith Stadium on Sunday after being found guilty of a grade one shoulder charge at Tuesday night's judiciary hearing.

The 24-year-old Fiji international had pleaded not guilty to the charge, which related to a tackle on Dragons playmaker Darren Nicholls in last weekend’s 40-18 win.

The on-field referees deemed the tackle late and Kikau was sent to the sin-bin.

He opted to challenge the charge but the NRL judiciary panel of former players Mal Cochrane, Sean Garlick, and Dallas Johnson found him guilty.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said the verdict left him confused about what constitutes a shoulder charge in the NRL.

“If that’s where the bar has been set then that would be fair comment,” Cleary said outside the judiciary room at NRL headquarters.

Kikau will miss Sunday’s game against the Raiders at Penrith Stadium and the following week against the Bulldogs at Bankwest Stadium.

“Of course he’s an important part of our team but we’ll march on,” Cleary said. “We’ll certainly stump up – perhaps slightly more motivated now."

Giving evidence on Kikau’s behalf, Cleary said that two days before the Dragons game, the coaching staff and players held a lengthy discussion about late hits on playmakers because “lately the interpretation seems to have changed a little”.

“I’m a little confused as Viliame was sin-binned for a late hit, late contact [but] is charged with a shoulder charge. I think it’s fair to say there’s some grey area around the interpretation there,” he said.

“We’re extremely disappointed – quite shocked actually. I thought we had a very strong case. I certainly didn’t think that was a shoulder charge. But I respect the process and respect the decision.”

The 24-year-old Fiji international believed he hit Nicholls with his upper left chest.

“I tried to pull out of the tackle because I saw him pass the ball,” Kikau said.

Kikau has said that due to Nicolls changing direction to pass and slipping on the dewy grass just before the point of contact, he had no time to adjust.

“My right arm went around him but my left arm had no time to do that,” he said.

His lawyer Nick Ghabar said his client made “a frontal collision” with Nicholls, rather than pushing his upper left arm or shoulder into the Dragons player.

But NRL counsel Peter McGrath maintained Kikau bent his left arm and positioned his left shoulder to drive into the playmaker and made no attempt to wrap both arms around.

“If there’s time to do with the right arm, then why not with the left?” McGrath said.

After hearing 80 minutes of evidence, the NRL judiciary panel took less than 10 to find him guilty.

Kikau will be unavailable until the round 21 match against the Sharks at Penrith Stadium on August 9.

His 119-kilo, 195-centimetre frame will be missed by Cleary’s seventh-placed team as they try to make their NRL finals place secure. He is one of the most potent edge forwards in the competition.

In 2019 he’s played 13 games and scored six tries – and made 50 tackle breaks. He averages 123 metres off 12 hit-ups each match.

Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu has accepted a one-week ban for a dangerous contact charge.

His contact with Titans winger Phillip Sami while the Gold Coast player was attempting to catch a kick resulted in a grade one charge.

Titans back Brenko Lee and Storm forward Joe Stimson also both took guilty pleas to dangerous contact charges on Tuesday, but neither will miss a match.

In judiciary news from Monday, Sharks prop Andrew Fifita and Brisbane forward Thomas Flegler have accepted one-week suspensions.

Fifita will also have 80 carry-over points when he returns from the ban incurred for his shoulder charge on Warriors forward Lachlan Burr on Friday.

Flegler will also miss one match - but have just 12 carry-over points - from a dangerous contact charge for a tackle on Marcelo Montoya.

Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs will avoid suspension after pleading guilty to a grade one dangerous contact charge. He will have 75 carry-over points against his name.

Player Suliasi Vunivalu
Club Storm
Time Minute of Match 41st
Charge/Incident Dangerous Contact - Other
Charge Grade 1
Result - Guilty or Not Guilty Guilty - Early Plea
Matches to serve 1
Points/Fine Calculation 112
Carry-Over Points 12
Misconduct on whom? Philip Sami

 

Player Brenko Lee
Club Titans
Time Minute of Match 49th
Charge/Incident Dangerous Contact - Other
Charge Grade 1
Result - Guilty or Not Guilty Guilty - Early Plea
Matches to serve 0
Points/Fine Calculation 75
Carry-Over Points 75
Misconduct on whom? Suliasi Vunivalu

 

Player Joe Stimson
Club Storm
Time Minute of Match 62nd
Charge/Incident Dangerous Contact - Other
Charge Grade 1
Result - Guilty or Not Guilty Guilty - Early Plea
Matches to serve 0
Points/Fine Calculation 75
Carry-Over Points 75
Misconduct on whom? Tyrone Roberts

 

Player Thomas Fleger
Club Broncos
Time Minute of Match 7th
Charge/Incident Dangerous Contact - Head/Neck
Charge Grade 1
Result - Guilty or Not Guilty Guilty - Early Plea
Matches to serve 1
Points/Fine Calculation 112
Carry-Over Points 12
Misconduct on whom? Marcelo Montoya

 

Player Kotoni Staggs
Club Broncos
Time Minute of Match 30th
Charge/Incident Dangerous Contact - Other
Charge Grade 1
Result - Guilty or Not Guilty Guilty - Early Plea
Matches to serve 0
Points/Fine Calculation 75
Carry-Over Points 75
Misconduct on whom? Corey Harawira-Naera

 

Player Andrew Fifita
Club Sharks
Time Minute of Match 68th
Charge/Incident Shoulder Charge
Charge Grade 1
Result - Guilty or Not Guilty Guilty - Early Plea
Matches to serve 1
Points/Fine Calculation 180
Carry-Over Points 80
Misconduct on whom? Lachlan Burr

 

Player Viliame Kikau
Club Storm
Time Minute of Match 64th
Charge/Incident Shoulder Charge
Charge Grade 1
Result - Guilty or Not Guilty Guilty
Matches to serve 2
Points/fine calculation 240
Carry-over points 40
Misconduct on whom? Darren Nicholls