Breaking down Liam Watts’ astonishing suspension record as Castleford Tigers prop banned again

Ben Olawumi
Liam Watts

Liam Watts is sent off during Castleford Tigers' Round 1 defeat to Wigan Warriors - Alamy

By the time Castleford Tigers stalwart Liam Watts has served his latest ban, he’ll have missed 18 games in a two-year period through suspension, the equivalent of more than half a season.

Punished by the Match Review Panel a whopping 11 times, Watts’ tally would have been 20 missed matches through suspension had he not been successful in an appeal against a disciplinary outcome last June, seeing a two-game ban handed to him after a clash with St Helens overturned.

The 33-year-old’s latest sanction brings a four-game suspension, falling foul to the newly-adapted laws of the game in Cas’ opener at home to reigning Super League champions Wigan Warriors on Saturday as he was sent off for dangerous contact with the head.

At his tribunal hearing, Watts pleaded guilty to that contact with Warriors prop Tyler Dupree, with the hope of seeing the grading of that offence lowered and in turn a lesser suspension handed out.

Instead, the grading – at ‘E’ level – remains, and he will have to sit out the Tigers’ next four games against Salford Red Devils, Warrington Wolves, Huddersfield Giants & Catalans Dragons respectively.

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Castleford Tigers stalwart Liam Watts hit with 11th ban in two years

Watts’ red card at the Jungle on Saturday, among many other decisions across the weekend, created uproar across social media from rugby league fans and those directly involved with the game alike.

In fact, players have openly come out and questioned the clarity over decision-making, like Huddersfield Giants forward Luke Yates, who called for some consistency from the disciplinary panel, currently serving a lengthy ban himself picked up in pre-season.

But while in isolation Watts’ dismissal looked harsh, the officials are applying the rulebook, they themselves adapting to new changes and adaptations to that very book in the off-season.

And for Watts, a ban isn’t exactly a new story. Of the 11 times he’s been penalised now in the last two years, three have been for what’s deemed dangerous contact, including that with the head of Dupree last weekend.

Elsewhere, he’s had three bans for a late hit on the passer and another for late contact with another player, while three times over there have been sanctions imposed on him for a high shot.

Only one of the 11 bans were for something that didn’t involve a tackle, i.e. the one-game he was hit with last August after a trip against St Helens.

Tackle techniques will have to change, Watts included. It’ll be even more of an issue next year when the legal tackle height is lowered to below the armpit in the professional game.

Like it or loathe it, that’s what’s happening, so players are going to have to adapt.

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Breaking down Liam Watts’ astonishing suspension record as Castleford Tigers prop banned again

Below, we’ve broken down each of Watts’ bans from the Match Review Panel over the last two years, with 12 on the list given we’ve included the one which was overturned.

The sanctions are listed as follows: Month of offence, opponent, type of offence, length of ban, tally of games missed through suspension.

With three bans from games against Hull KR, it’s probably good news for anyone of a Tigers persuasion that they don’t face the Robins this year until mid-June.

From most recent down:

February 2024 v Wigan Warriors – Contact with the head – Four-match ban (18)

August 2023 v St Helens – Trip – One-match ban (14)

June 2023 v St Helens – Dangerous Contact – Two-match ban (OVERTURNED)

June 2023 v Leeds Rhinos – Dangerous Contact – One-match ban (13)

May 2023 v Catalans Dragons – Dangerous Contact – One-match ban (12)

April 2023 v Hull KR – Late Contact – One-match ban (11)

August 2022 v Salford Red Devils – Late hit on passer – Two-match ban (10)

August 2022 v St Helens – Late hit on passer – Two-match ban (8)

July 2022 v Leeds Rhinos – High Tackle – Two-match ban (6)

June 2022 v Catalans Dragons – Late hit on passer – One-match ban (4)

May 2022 v Hull KR – High Tackle – Two-match ban (3)

February 2022 v Hull KR – High Tackle – One-match ban (1)

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