Australia and Sydney Roosters back-rower Angus Crichton is free to play in the NRL’s opening round, despite previously receiving a two-match ban following the World Cup final.
Crichton, 26, was banned for two matches after elbowing Samoa hooker Chanel Harris-Tavita in the 30-10 win at Old Trafford.
He was sin-binned by referee Ashley Klein during the match, with Samoa coach Matt Parish saying afterwards that the former South Sydney forward should have been sent off.
After the incident, Angus Crichton said: “It was just me bracing for a tackle- and it was a freak tackle. As soon as it happened, I spoke to Chanel, and it was honestly just a reaction. I didn’t know that he was coming in and I had not malice at all.”
The suspension has since been halved on appeal, and he has been told he can serve it in the pre-season game against Melbourne Storm on February 12.
It means he will be free to play for the Roosters when they face NRL new-boys the Dolphins in round one.
The application of disciplinary issues surrounding the World Cup has caused controversy and confusion.
Before the tournament, England’s John Bateman was named in the England Knights squad to enable him to run-down a ban picked up by his red card for Wigan against Leeds in the Super League play-offs.
Tonga’s Jason Taumalolo sat out their first two World Cup matches after picking up a ban in the NRL play-offs, while Wales prop Gil Dudson sat the tournament out altogether after he was banned for three-matches for a headbutt in Catalans’ play-off defeat to Leeds.
It’s unclear whether Dudson will still have to serve any games following his switch to Warrington, as he wasn’t included in the Wales squad as a result of his ban. The player himself wasn’t sure of the situation when asked at a Warrington media event earlier this week.
In the NRL, South Sydney successfully argued that winger Taane Milne would have been selected for Fiji had he not been suspended.
He was slapped with a six-match ban for a reckless high tackle that saw him sent off in the NRL play-off defeat to Penrith.
That ruled him out of World Cup selection, but Fiji’s four games in the tournament – plus their warm-up game with England – have been counted towards his ban leaving him with just one left to serve.
Serving bans in pre-season
The NRL also approved that New Zealand’s Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Australia’s Lindsay Collins could serve suspensions in international matches.
But a group of other players who were banned towards the end of last season will not be able to use NRL pre-season games to serve their bans.
The list includes Parramatta’s Ryan Matterson, Mat Croker of Newcastle Knights and Gold Coast Titans’ Brian Kelly.
The NRL explained: “Crichton’s ban falls under the jurisdiction of the International Rugby League, which permits pre-season matches to be included.
“A clause in the NRL judiciary code allows for the disciplinary policy of the body which handed down the suspension to be applied and Crichton has been cleared to serve his ban during the new pre-season competition.”
Unlike the NRL, Super League allows suspensions to be served in pre-season games, with a maximum of two.
That means St Helens prop Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook will sit out Mark Percival’s testimonial following the one-match ban he was handed after their Grand Final win over Leeds.
Saints’ next competitive fixture is the World Club Challenge against Penrith Panthers, while they will also play a challenge match before that against St George-Illawarra Dragons.