‘Not fair’: Storm accept Hughes ban for ref push

Jasper Bruce and Melissa Woods |

Jahrome Hughes will miss the Storm’s round-three clash with Newcastle due to suspension.
Jahrome Hughes will miss the Storm’s round-three clash with Newcastle due to suspension.

Jahrome Hughes has accepted a one-match NRL ban for pushing referee Chris Butler despite Melbourne saying it wasn’t a “fair outcome”.

The suspension means the Storm could be without their two first-choice playmakers for Sunday’s away clash with Newcastle, with Cameron Munster still under an injury cloud.

It comes as St George Illawarra prepare to lose middle forward Francis Molo for a week after he was charged for his high shot on Dolphins veteran Jarrod Wallace.

Hughes pushed Butler when the referee found himself between the halfback and Warriors centre Rocco Berry as the Storm defended their line during Saturday night’s game. 

The referee tumbled to the ground and the morning after Melbourne’s come-from-behind win, Hughes received a grade-two contrary conduct charge.

The Storm issued a statement on Monday saying they didn’t agree with the grading of the charge but didn’t want to risk a two-game ban by challenging it.

If found guilty at a hearing, Hughes would have also missed their round-five heavyweight clash against Brisbane, which would have meant three weeks sidelined given their round-four bye.

“We are disappointed that an unsuccessful challenge on the grading would have also resulted in an extra week suspension,” the club said.

“We believe the risk of the penalty for contesting the charge is too high considering the circumstances of the incident.

“In the end, the threat of an extra week suspension on top of our club’s (round four) bye was the overriding factor in our decision but we don’t believe this is a fair outcome.”

Melbourne said while they support the protection of refereees, they believe the collision was an “accident”.

“Further, we believe the contact was unavoidable and the grading on the incident was too harsh given the circumstances where Jahrome was concentrating on making an important tackle in the context of the game and not fixated on the movements of the referee.”

The club said Hughes had reached out to Butler to apologise.

The decision to charge Hughes drew criticism from former NRL players Michael Ennis and Corey Parker across the weekend.

Butler was the second official to become entangled in play over the weekend.

Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski was deemed to have impeded Cronulla’s Braydon Trindall as he tried to stop Canterbury second-rower Viliame Kikau close to the line on Friday night.

The incident was ruled as a mutual infringement, meaning play reverted back to the previous play-the-ball and Kikau’s would-be try was disallowed.
Meanwhile, Molo will miss Saturday’s clash with North Queensland if he accepts the early guilty plea for his grade-one careless high tackle charge.

He went to the sin bin in the final five minutes of the Dragons’ 38-0 loss to the Dolphins on Sunday after making shoulder contact with Wallace’s head.

If he opts to fight the charge, Molo could also miss the round four match against Manly.