Canberra Raiders player Sia Soliola has been suspended for five matches for his sickening high and late tackle on Melbourne Storm star Billy Slater last Saturday.
Slater continues to battle headaches, according to teammate Cooper Cronk, who said on Tuesday that Soliola’s monster hit had made Slater a dubious starter for the weekend’s upcoming game against Manly.
“It’s about passing the concussion protocols, so it will be taken out of Billy’s hands,” Cronk said.
Medical documents revealed Slater was knocked unconscious for two to three minutes and suffered memory loss that left him unable to recall the incident.
The NRL’s prosecutor argued for a six-match suspension, describing Soliola’s contact with Slater as reckless, but the judiciary panel reduced it due to his guilty plea.
Soliola arrived for what stretched into a two-hour hearing accompanied by Raiders coach Ricky Stuart and was greeted by a handful of club supporters.
Soliola said after reviewing the tackle he had to admit it was high and late.
“I know this has put a bad light on our game — I love this game because it’s given me so much.”
Soliola will be eligible to return to the competition in the final round of the regular season, coincidentally also against Melbourne.
“I’m sorry to Billy and his family and the Storm, as well as my team and the Raiders fans,” he said.
“I’d like to thank the NRL for giving me a fair hearing, I respect and accept the punishment,” he said.
Watch the incident below:
Soliola isn’t the only figure in the brutal incident to find himself in hot water.
Senior NRL review official Bernard Sutton has taken the bullet for failing to send off Soliola, while referees boss Tony Archer also pinned blame on assistant referee Chris Butler.
While lead on-field official Matt Cecchin has seemingly escaped scot-free, Sutton has been demoted to the role of regular bunker reviewer and will have all his major decisions overseen by senior official Luke Patten.
“The officials who were ultimately responsible for the decision, given it occurred in backplay, were the senior review official and the assist referee,” Archer said.
-with AAP and wires