Manly backrower Haumole Olakau’atu is likely to miss next week’s crunch game against the Rabbitohs, as he faces a week on the sidelines due to a high shot on Aiden Tolman.
In what was a brutal first half for the Sea Eagles, Olakau’atu was sent to the sin bin on the half hour mark, just as the Sharks had scored their fifth try. It triggered a contentious moment when the Sharks summoned Tolman to the bench for a matter of seconds to take advantage of the NRL’s free interchange rule that occurs when a player is sin binned for an act of foul play. Nine commentator Brad Fittler described Cronulla’s ploy as “abuse” of the rule.
Manly added a lot of respectability to the scoreline after going into the sheds down 32-0, but eventually lost, 34-22.
The NRL has on Friday morning charged Olakau’atu with a grade two careless high tackle, which means he’ll miss one match with an early guilty plea, or two if he were to challenge the ruling and lose at the judiciary.
The charge backed up referee Gerard Sutton’s decision to sin bin Manly’s gun second-rower despite the fact that Sutton and the touch judge initially allowed play to go on. In commentary for Nine Andrew Johns was stunned by the eventual decision to sin bin Olakau’atu.
“It didn’t look high,” Johns said, before watching a replay and adding, “but Aiden Tolman drops.”
Olakau’atu has been one of Manly’s most-impressive players this year, and they’ll face an uphill battle without both him and Tom Trbojevic next week.
It’s been a mixed bag of a campaign for the Sea Eagles so far, dropping their first two games before a four-match winning streak came to an end on Thursday night.
Promising young forward Josh Schuster and prop Josh Aloiai are also on the recovery trail, but coach Des Hasler confirmed that neither Dylan Walker nor Taniela Paseka would play against Souths, and that Andrew Davey was a huge doubt.
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“Those three would be doubtful, but we’ve got the long turnaround,” Hasler told reporters last night.
“Andrew might be a chance, but the other two definitely won’t take the field.”
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