Sonny Bill Williams faces a minimum of three weeks on the sidelines after being charged with a Grade 2 Shoulder Charge on George Burgess in the final set of six of the match last night, won 28-8 by the Rabbitohs.
Should he challenge the ruling and the charge is upheld, he’ll score an extra week on the sidelines. It doesn’t look good, people:
Strangely, the NRL did not charge him (and rightly so) for the shoulder charge on Ben Lowe that was so urgent that the NRL found it necessary to call up Channel Nine and ask for all available angles while the game was in progress, an unprecedented move.
They also declined to charge Ben Te’o (probably rightly so as well) for his late shoulder charge on SBW in the first half:
Meanwhile, captain Anthony Minichiello has been charged for raising his knee but will not miss any time if he takes the early plea.
But the Sonny Bill loss will be huge, and if he pleads guilty he’ll at the very least miss the Sea Eagles Grand Final rematch, as well as games in the lead up against the Eels and Broncos.
But the game was over: why put a shoulder charge on at all?
There were at least three shoulder charges by Roosters in this game (two by SBW, one by Napa) and the team lost its cool towards the end of the match when this incident happened.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves gave away three cheap penalties towards the end, seemingly out of frustration. But there is no excuse for risking suspension on the first tackle of the last set of a game that was well and truly over.
So.. who will take his place?
It would seem reasonable for the Roosters to promote either Frank-Paul Nu’uasala or Mitch Aubusson to take the vacated starting spot in the back-row, and it’s clear the Roosters were short a front rower last night.
The options are semingly to bring in either of Kane Evans or Remi Casty to debut — or both. Dylan Napa was erratic last night, while Daniel Mortimer was also down on last year’s form. Neither are a shoo-in to retain their place, although dropping Mortimer seems unlikely after just one game.