Rugby League

NRL: Raiders coach Ricky Stuart wants minor offences scrapped after Leilua beats charge

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart wants the NRL to change how it deals with minor on-field indiscretions after Joey Leilua escaped a contrary conduct charge.

Leilua is still suspended for Saturday's game with the Gold Coast Titans at Canberra Stadium serving the second week of a two-week ban for a lifting tackle, but he is now available for the following week's match with the Bulldogs at Belmore.

Raiders centre Joey Leilua is sent to the sin bin against the Roosters.
Raiders centre Joey Leilua is sent to the sin bin against the Roosters. Photo: Getty Images

The NRL judiciary took only 15 minutes to deliver a not guilty verdict when it heard Leilua's case on Wednesday night.

Leilua reacted to a high tackle from Sydney Roosters forward Dylan Napa in their 21-20 victory in round two.

The Raiders successfully argued the contact was nothing more than a slap and that Leilua and the team had been adequately punished by Leilua being sin-binned for 10 minutes at a crucial stage of the game.

Stuart said the NRL needed to find a better way to deal with minor offences to prevent the game's best players being put on the sideline.

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"The only thing grade ones do is it hurts the fans and it costs the clubs," Stuart said.

"I really think there is another method and there is another process we can have with grade ones, but there's plenty of people talking about it so I'll leave it to them.

"It was good, we're fortunate we can now have Joey back for Canterbury now."



The NRL and the players' union are in discussions to review judiciary charges and possibly introduce a fines system for minor offences next season.

A similar system is already used in the AFL.

The issue has gained momentum in the NRL with the number of players who have been charged with making contact with referees.

Eight players were charged by the match review committee this week for grade one offences.

Six of them - Kieran Foran (Eels), Jeremy Latimore (Panthers), Sam McKendry (Panthers), Chris Lawrence (Tigers), Kirisome Auva'a (Rabbitohs) and Brenton Lawrence (Sea Eagles) - took early guilty pleas.

Foran was charged with contrary conduct with a match official and will be walking a tight-rope the rest of the season after picking up 93 carry-over points.

Latimore and Lawrence were given one-match suspensions, while the others were free to play this weekend.

South Sydney's Paul Carter had his dangerous contact charge downgraded to grade one and is free to play.

Brenko Lee will fill in for Leilua for the second straight week in the centres against the Titans.

Raiders captain Jarrod Croker is expecting his former Raiders teammate David Shillington to have a point to prove in his return to Canberra.

Shillington played 132 games in seven seasons with the Raiders before joining the Titans on a two-year deal this season.

"I think they like coming back and playing against us as well,'' Croker said.

"There is that feeling in the air when the older players come back, so I'm sure Shillo will be fired up.

"He's got a lot of great mates here at the club and I'm sure he will be able to put his best foot forward."

NRL - ROUND 4

Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans, at Canberra Stadium, 5.30pm. Tickets from TicketekTV: Live on Fox Sports 1.