Hudson Young's NRL finals hopes are in tatters after the Canberra Raiders rookie was hit with an eight-game ban despite maintaining he did not gouge the eyes of a rival player.
The alleged eye gouge on New Zealand outside back Adam Pompey - which the Warriors winger still maintains he "didn't feel" - will keep Young sidelined as the Raiders set their sights on a drought-breaking premiership.
The result of the marathon two-and-a-half hour hearing left Young to cut a shattered figure and means he will miss the Raiders' finals clash with the Melbourne Storm in Melbourne on Saturday.
It will also keep him sidelined for at least the opening month of Canberra's 2020 campaign, with the number of games missed next season set to hinge on how deep the Raiders go into this year's finals.
"I just want to thank the panel for a fair hearing, and although I'm disappointed with the decision I'll accept my punishment and learn from it,'' Young said.
"I'll now focus on returning to training this week and doing everything I can for the team.''
The Raiders had named Young in their 21-man squad on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the highly-anticipated qualifying final in the hope he would win his case and add an extra string to coach Ricky Stuart's bow.
Canberra officials employed legal gun Nick Ghabar to represent Young after he pleaded not guilty having already served a five-game suspension for a similar incident this season.
Pompey appeared via a video link to say he did not feel Young had made contact with his eyes in the tackle, adamant "I didn't feel anything at all".
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Pompey said he would not lie about being eye-gouged but confusion soon swirled around the room when he was asked if "what happens on the field should stay on the field" and responded with one word: "Yep".
Even so, Ghabar said the judiciary would have to "completely reject" the statements made by both Young and Pompey for the Raider to be suspended.
Pompey's comment led judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew to tell his panel to consider whether the evidence presented by the Warrior was "influenced by a sense of loyalty to another professional footballer".
They would ultimately find Young guilty after an 18-minute deliberation to mark the second time he has been on the wrong end of such a charge this season.
Young found himself in the spotlight for an alleged eye gouge on Pompey just a fortnight after saying he wanted to make amends for his past mistake.
That error was an eye gouge on Canterbury forward Aiden Tolman which earned the rookie Raider a five-game ban earlier this year.
Stuart has dubbed the outlandish calls such as those pushing for year-long bans "childish", and in truth such a situation was never going to eventuate.
The Raiders could seek to draft another player into their 21-man squad with Young to fall off the extended bench for the Melbourne clash.
The timely return of Joe Tapine from three fractured ribs which he thought would end his campaign will bolster Canberra's forward pack ahead of a huge test against the minor premiers.
Young will be left to watch from afar adamant he did not gouge the eyes of Pompey in the tackle which ultimately ended his season.