Charged: Rabbitohs back-rower Ben Te'o. Photo: Getty Images
Ben Te’o’s NRL career was likely to end on the sidelines after he became the fifth South Sydney player charged in two games for wrestling opposition players into dangerous positions.
A shocking judiciary record could see Te’o rubbed out for up to five games after he was whacked with a grade two charge of dangerous contact with arm/shoulder pressure for a chicken-wing tackle on Brisbane’s Sam Thaiday in the Rabbitohs 42-16 victory on Thursday night.
The base penalty would have Te’o miss just two games, but 45 carry over points, plus a host of loadings, would have the back-rower suspended for four games if he took the early guilty plea. With only three more regular season games for the Rabbitohs, this would make Te’o’s 150th NRL game on Thursday night his last because of his two-year deal to join Leinster Rugby at the end of this year.
Should he receive the maximum ban, Te’o might not be eligible for selection until the NRL’s grand final on October 5 if South Sydney finished in the top four and won their two finals matches.
Teammates Chris McQueen and Kirisome Auva'a would escape suspensions after being charged with a grade one crusher tackle. Rabbitohs big man George Burgess had one game to serve on his suspension for a chicken-wing tackle while Issac Luke escaped a ban, despite being charged for his part in the tackle that had Burgess suspended.
Any suspension for Te’o could ease a selection headache for coach Michael Maguire, who needed to slot skipper John Sutton back into the mix. Sutton’s injury had allowed Luke Keary and Adam Reynolds to star in the halves.
The Rabbitohs judiciary woes overshadowed a Greg Inglis inspired victory on Thursday night that resulted in South Sydney surging to the top of the premiership ladder.
The win was their fifth straight and Inglis scored a hat-trick of tries. The Rabbitohs walked away from the match injury free. Only veteran back-rower Ben Lowe nursed a popped rib, which wasn’t expected to rule him out of their clash against North Queensland next week.
Lowe paid tribute to Inglis. “Greggy is a great athlete. I have the best seat in the house when he is doing those type of things. He can do them each week for us if he wants to.
“He can do anything at any stage of the game, like Jarryd Hayne. He is very grounded and has a good head on his shoulders. He knows what he has to do.”
While South Sydney continue to impress, they know anything but a grand final appearance will result in an unsuccessful season. The Rabbitohs have been bundled out of the competition one game short of a grand final appearance in the past two years.
Lowe, who joined the club well before it blossomed into a premiership contender, said the playing group was not getting carried away with recent results.
“I’ve been through a few dark days at South Sydney,” Lowe said. “It’s great to be winning games of footy but we can’t get too ahead of ourselves."