PENRITH'S Travis Burns was involved in a long and heated verbal exchange with Martin Kennedy just moments before the tackle on the Sydney Roosters prop that has him facing the longest suspension in the NRL since 2005.
Burns was one of nine players charged yesterday by the NRL match review committee but his ban of up to 17 matches was not only the lengthiest of any of them but also the most severe since John Hopoate received the same penalty for his king hit on Keith Galloway at Brookvale Oval.
The Panthers utility is also the first player charged with an intentional high tackle since Cronulla's Mitch Healey on Parramatta halfback David Penna in 2000 and he faces a second charge for a chicken wing on Roosters forward Mose Masoe.
Healey contested the grade-four intentional high tackle charge and had it downgraded to a grade-four reckless high tackle that earned him a three-match ban.
If Burns unsuccessfully challenges the grade-three intentional high tackle charge at tomorrow night's judiciary hearing he will receive a 12-match suspension, while he faces a four-match ban for a separate charge of grade-two dangerous contact - unnecessary arm/shoulder pressure.
However, when combined the penalty for the two charges equates to 1700 demerit points - 1275 for the high tackle and 424 for the chicken wing - plus Burns has 22 carryover points from a previous offence.
Burns would be facing a combined ban of seven to 10 matches if not for his poor judiciary record, which includes two previous charges in the past two seasons.
As a result he receives a 70 per cent loading on his penalty for each charge - comprising a 50 per cent loading for a similar previous offence and 20 per cent loading for a non-similar previous offence.
With Penrith considered no chance of making the finals, Burns could be suspended until round 10 next season if he fails to have the charges downgraded.
If he pleads guilty to both charges, Burns will be suspended for 12 matches, which is still the longest suspension since Hopoate in 2005 and would sideline him for the Panthers' remaining six matches this season, the opening four rounds of next year's competition and two pre-season trials.
Penrith officials said last night they were seeking legal advice before making a decision but Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was clearly unhappy with Burns after Sunday's match against the Roosters, in which he conceded four penalties and was sent off for the high tackle on Kennedy.
One of those penalties was the play before his high shot and the pair exchanged words while Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce kicked for touch. Kennedy then took the hit-up from the tap restart and Burns hit him high - an act that referee Ashley Klein described as ''deliberate'' when he sent him from the field in the 71st minute.
The verbal exchange with Kennedy is expected to be used as evidence against Burns if he decides to contest the charge, while video footage of the incident taken from a head-on angle suggests he was unlikely to hit the Roosters prop anywhere but the head.
Meanwhile, Brisbane pair Ben Te'o and Josh Hoffman, Dragons trio Dan Hunt, Josh Miller and Trent Merrin and Canberra's Josh Papalii were also charged.
Te'o is facing a week out for a grade-two careless high tackle on Gold Coast forward Luke Bailey.
Hoffman could miss two weeks for a tackle on Bailey which was deemed grade-two dangerous contact.
Hunt, Merrin and Miller have all been charged with grade-one careless high tackles, but will be free to play at the weekend.
Papalii was charged with grade-one dangerous contact with a kicker, but could play this weekend if he takes the early guilty plea.