Raiders rookie Hudson Young is facing up to a three-month suspension and the longest NRL ban in seven years after being referred straight to the judiciary for alleged eye-gouging.
Young was charged for making contact with the eyes of Warriors winger Adam Pompey in Saturday's shock loss for Canberra, and will answer his case on Tuesday night at Rugby League Central.
Having already copped a five-week suspension for a similar incident on Canterbury's Aiden Tolman in June, if found guilty Young is staring down potentially the heftiest ban since James Graham was rubbed out for three months when he bit Billy Slater in the 2012 grand final.
Young pleaded guilty to a grade 3 dangerous contact charge for gouging Tolman, with NRL.com understanding unpublished footage of that incident showed the Raiders back-rower digging his thumb into Tolman's eye.
Given the match review committee (MRC) referred Young's case directly to judiciary, the incident is being viewed as more serious than provided for in the NRL's grading system, and beyond the minimum 500-point, five-week suspension that is attached to a grade three charge.
As each grade is scaled up by 200 demerit points for dangerous contact charges, the base penalty for a grade 4 offence would be 700 demerit points and any penalty imposed on Young could then include loading for his previous incidents.
The judiciary is free to determine a different grade to what the MRC has recommended.
NRL counsel can also push for similar loading to be added due Young's repeat offences, as they did when George Burgess answered his most recent charge for making contact with Robbie Farah's eyes in June.
Burgess was handed a nine-game suspension for his second offence in the space of a year, after the NRL's lawyer Peter McGrath pushed for an initial 12-match ban during the Englishman's hearing.
Young's contact on Pompey was not picked up during the match by officials, with the Warriors winger reportedly defending Young via social media after the game.
Highly rated silk Nick Ghabar has been enlisted by the Raiders for Young's defence on Tuesday night.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart defended Young after the 24-20 loss to the Warriors at GIO Stadium on Saturday.
"I know he didn't gouge the kid," Stuart said of the incident.
"But there was a hand on the face from what I've seen on the video
"Again, it's something I have to look at again to get clearer version of it."
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said it "didn't look good" when asked about the incident post-match, with Stuart hoping for clemency if Young is charged.
"It reminds me of the Josh McGuire incidents where he got fined," Stuart said.
"I went straight to [Young after the game] and asked him if it was a gouge and he'd spoken to the other player.
"If it was an eye-gouge, look I don't condone any of this, but if it was an eye gouge the kid [Pompey] would reel out of it but he didn't."
Young's incident added to what was far from an ideal way for the Raiders to finish their regular season.
Mistakes in attack, uncharacteristic lapses in defence plus a shoulder injury to Michael Oldfield and knee complaint for Corey Horsburgh made it a miserable afternoon for the Raiders.
The loss puts Canberra on a collision course with minor premiers Melbourne, as the sides resume their rivalry from round 22 when the Raiders claimed arguably their best win of the season so far.
"That will have them even more ready, I know what Craig [Bellamy] is like," Stuart said.
"So that will be certainly a big part of their preparation, but we have to go and perform at AAMI [Park]."
Defensively the Raiders were not at their usual high standard on Saturday, as demonstrated by Blake Green's try to seal the win in the 76th minute when he coasted through the Canberra line to score almost untouched.
"That's a big disappointment, how they scored," Stuart said.
"We had a goal this year to be the number one defensive team in the competition and we weren't.
"I was disappointed with aspects our play today, not all just defence, there was a couple of times we let them off the hook with the football.
"So, we've still got room to improve but that was a young football team I put out there today in a number of positions and they'll learn from that.
"If I call upon them going into a semi-final they will be better off for having played today and learning what the scenario was."
Stuart said the rested trio of John Bateman, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Jordan Rapana and Sia Soliola would be named in the side to play Melbourne next week, while Joe Tapine (ribs) is still in some doubt.