Canberra players say they're baffled by the NRL judiciary's decision to ban Hudson Young despite the alleged victim defending the Raiders forward.
The flawed judiciary system was exposed again on Tuesday night when Young was slapped with an eight-game suspension for making contact with Adam Pompey's face last weekend.
Pompey gave evidence to say he did not feel Young make contact with his eyes.
The incident has divided current and former players, with some calling for Young to be banned for 12 months and others defending the 21-year-old.
Raiders players are rallying around Young, who was suspended for five weeks earlier this year after being found guilty of an eye gouge.
But they are also frustrated at the differing punishments at the judiciary.
"I feel sorry for Hudson," said Elliott Whitehead. "I don't really understand how you can get [suspended] when the victim is saying he didn't do it.
"I'm not too sure how it rolled out ... but I'm sure he'll he get the support from the club and the players here.
...I don't think he did it intentionally. He's been down this week and some of the comments sent to him have been out of order.
"For a young kid, he doesn't need that. The boys will get around him."
The NRL wanted Young suspended for 12 weeks after he was found guilty.
Young said during the hearing hearing: "At no point did I feel his eye, eye socket, nothing," Young said.
"I was trying to grab anything to try and hold him up ... I'm trying to grab anything to try and pull him up and allow enough time for Nick [Cotric] to hold him up."
Whitehead, who signed a contract extension on Wednesday, represented himself at the NRL judiciary to fight a grade one contrary conduct fine earlier this year. He won his case and was cleared of making contact with his leg or foot on Nathan Cleary.
The English international compared Young's incident to a similar one in the AFL this week, which led to GWS Giants star Toby Greene being hit with a $7500 fine instead of a ban.
"I don't understand it," Whitehead said when asked if the judiciary was confusing.
"I watched that AFL thing when some guy [Greene] is pulling hair, poking eyes and smashing heads off. He got off and then Sam Burgess gets a week for pulling hair [in the NRL].
"I don't understand it. I thought our game would be more contact than theirs, but obviously not."
Raiders players John Bateman, Jordan Rapana and Luke Bateman voiced their frustration on social media after Young was banned.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has also pointed to inconsistencies this year, with Josh McGuire twice escaping suspension for eye gouging.
Ryan Sutton, who also signed a new deal on the eve of the finals, hoped Young would feel the support of his teammates.
"I live with Hudson and I know hard it will be on him," Sutton said.
"It was really unfortunate. Personally, I thought nothing would happen from it. He's a young kid in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"The good thing about this team here, if someone does something everyone's there to make sure you're OK."
NRL QUALIFYING FINAL
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm at Melbourne, 5.40pm.
Raiders squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (C), 10. Sia Soliola, 11. John Bateman, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Joe Tapine. Interchange from: 14. Bailey Simonsson, 15. Dunamis Lui, 16. Corey Horsburgh, 17. Ryan Sutton, 18. Sam Williams, 19. Emre Guler, 20. Siliva Havili.