Rugby League

Canberra Raiders to examine options as Joey Leilua faces three week ban

The Canberra Raiders will examine how similar incidents have been dealt with by the judiciary before deciding whether to contest Joey Leilua's contrary conduct charge for punching Sydney Rooster Dylan Napa.

Leilua faces three weeks on the sideline for two charges – a dangerous throw on Shaun Kenny-Dowall in the 14th minute of Saturday's 21-20 win, and punching Napa in the 65th minute after the forward was penalised for hitting Leilua high.

It is understood the Raiders are frustrated by the decision, as they believe sin-binning Leilua at a critical juncture of the game is punishment enough.

Leilua can accept 131 points for each charge with early pleas, and 175 points for each if he fights the charge and loses, but is set to pay the price for his poor record.

His 70 carryover points, including two bans for shoulder charges late last year after joining Canberra from Newcastle, means he will be suspended for three games even if he takes the early pleas for both.

The judiciary found the punch on Napa wasn't forceful enough to be deemed striking, and opted for a contrary conduct charge instead.

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Napa will avoid suspension despite being placed on report twice for high tackles on Leilua and Jordan Rapana.

Napa wasn't charged for the Leilua hit, and can accept 95 carryover points with an early guilty plea for a careless high tackle on Rapana in the eighth minute.

A sin-binning for punching has been mandatory since Paul Gallen was banned for a week for a series of blows on Nate Myles in a 2013 State of Origin match.

Raiders fullback Jack Wighton was sin-binned for punching Sharks winger Sosaia Feki in round one last year, but escaped a ban with 93 carryover points.

Penrith winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak wasn't cited at all for a "squirrel grip", followed by a slap to the face, on Raiders back-rower Josh Papalii in round one.

Leilua would be shattered at missing a chance to play his former side for the first time when the Raiders head to Newcastle on Saturday.

Sisa Waqa or Brenko Lee are the frontrunners to take his place, while the Raiders are confident Shaun Fensom (concussion) will play after he was knocked out in the first minute of the Roosters win.

The Raiders will start warm favourites to beat Newcastle, who have suffered two big road defeats to Gold Coast and Souths.

Leading bookmakers Tabcorp have Canberra a $3.50 favourite to be the last team to lose a game, given they host the unfancied Titans in round four.

However, the Raiders coaches acted quickly to stamp out any complacency by delivering a critical appraisal of the Roosters win at a video session on Monday.

Canberra won despite making 17 errors, and coach Ricky Stuart has told them to learn a lesson.

"We gave them some constructive criticism today because we didn't play well, and we need to be better than that," Stuart said.

"All the coaches today were quite critical of our performance, and all our players agreed.

"There was some tough love today, but our character enabled us to escape a bullet."

Young half Lachlan Croker injured his shoulder in his NRL debut against the Roosters, and Stuart said he won't play against the Knights unless fully fit.

"It'll be something we look at in the back end of the week," Stuart said.

"For a young bloke I don't want to risk him and have to play with injuries, I want to be careful with this one and look after him."

NRL ROUND 2

Saturday: Newcastle Knights v Canberra Raiders at Hunter Stadium, 5pm. TV: Live on Fox Sports 1.

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