NSW five-eighth Josh Reynolds has challenged the grading of a dangerous throw charge that is set to rub him out of Origin II, dumbfounded by the match review committee's ruling.
Reynolds questioned the direction the game was heading after he copped the grade two charge for the tackle in the first half on Brent Tate of Wednesday night's epic Origin encounter. If successful in getting the charge downgraded to a grade one, an early guilty plea will see Reynolds banned for one match making him available for the clash at ANZ Stadium on June 18.
While there are two rounds before Laurie Daley's team gather for camp ahead of game two, the Bulldogs have the bye this weekend, which means Reynolds will miss Origin II if he his banned for longer than one week.
Josh Reynolds tries to evade Josh Papalii. Photo: Getty Images
The NRL also told Fairfax Media that Reynolds won't be allowed to be named to play NSW Cup this week in order to trigger his first game of suspension, leaving Reynolds with only one option if he hopes to feature in the second game of the series.
"I have to fight it, I have to," Reynolds said. "It's so frustrating that I even have to worry about it. This is Origin. This is what it's built on. I don't even want to think about missing game two. I'll truly be devastated, the fact that I've got such a great bond with these guys now. I can't explain the feelings I'm going through. I can't believe it. If I get done for that ... I don't know where the game is going, really. There was no malice in it. I didn't put him on his head, I put him straight on his back. Hopefully there's some common sense there. He's not a small guy Brent Tate, he's probably got 10 kilograms on me and I have to put my body on the line."
Beau Scott was also involved in the tackle but he will escape suspension if he takes the early plea for flinging Tate to the ground while Reynolds lifted him into the air. Reynolds received plenty of support from his teammates, who don't believe the tackle warranted the charge that was handed down by the match review committee within an hour of the conclusion of Wednesday night's 12-8 win to the Blues.
State of Origin: Qld v NSW
Billy Slater of the Maroons runs through James Tamou and Beau Scott of the Blues. Photo: Getty Images
Back-rower Ryan Hoffman defended his five-eighth, describing the charge as a "kneejerk" reaction. "I for one am all for player welfare and player well-being, but also accidents happen in rugby league," Hoffman said. "There's been a lot of kneejerk reactions to some incidents at the start of the year. When you're driving up in the tackle and someone else is pulling him down, there's only one way for him to go. It's a rugby league accident. There was no malice. I think grade two is strong, but I suppose the match review committee have already set a precedence with other tackles.
"It's very disappointing for Josh. It's very harsh. He didn't lift and drive him into the ground. He just tackled him around the legs and he flipped over. I feel for him because I feel it doesn't warrant that."
Skipper Paul Gallen believes the speed in which Tate was running the ball contributed to the position he found himself in, but believes the fact that Tate landed on his back should see Reynolds slapped with a minor charge.
The tackle on Brent Tate which places Josh Reynolds' status for game two in doubt. Photo: Getty Images
"He got in a dangerous position, there's no doubt about that, but he never landed in a dangerous position," Gallen said. "I think a grade two is too harsh. As I said, he never landed in a dangerous position, and when you look at the tackle, I don't think he actually lifted him. Because Tate was running so fast, his momentum just went. The video is clear, he didn't land in a dangerous position. This is the problem with it, it goes to lawyers and wording instead of a game of football. I can understand a low grade charge, but I think they should fight it."