NRL’s Horsburgh accepts bans for punching, headbutt

Jasper Bruce |

Corey Horsburgh has been banned for three games for headbutting and punching in a reserve-grade game, further denting the Canberra forward’s hopes of an NRL comeback.

Horsburgh’s brain snap against Jacob Laban sparked a melee during the Raiders’ 24-18 NSW Cup loss on Saturday and led to him joining Warriors forwards Laban and Tom Ale in being sent off.

On Monday, the NSW Rugby League match review committee handed Horsburgh two separate striking charges, one a grade-one offence and the other a grade-two over his headbutt and punching.

Horsburgh has accepted one-game and two-game suspensions with early guilty pleas for his respective offences.

It means in a season already interrupted by injury and suspension, Horsburgh will be unavailable to play for the Raiders’ NRL side until round 21 against South Sydney.

Horsburgh appeared to headbutt Laban off the ball while Canberra attacked the Warriors’ line in the second half, later throwing a flurry of punches at the back-rower.

Referee Martin Jones believed Laban had also struck Horsburgh, though video replays cast doubt over that claim and Laban has avoided sanction.

For his part in the fracas, Ale has been handed a grade-one striking charge and can accept a one-match ban after Jones accused him of kicking Horsburgh.

Ale has until Tuesday to submit a plea and risks missing two games if he takes his case to the NSWRL judiciary.

A State of Origin representative last year, Horsburgh has played for the Raiders’ NRL side only twice in 2024, his most recent appearance coming in round five.

He missed the first three weeks of the campaign through suspension before a groin injury sidelined him in early April.

The 26-year-old has been back playing reserve grade since June 15, but is yet to break back into a first-grade side that has lacked punch in the forwards and lost four of their past five games.