Tonga have suffered a blow ahead of the World Cup with influential forward Jason Taumalolo facing a three-match suspension.
The 29-year-old was sent to the sin-bin during North Queensland Cowboys’ finals defeat to Parramatta Eels. Taumalolo was penalised for a high shot on opposition and New Zealand international back-rower Isaiah Papali’i during the first half.
He now faces a three-match suspension after being charged by the NRL match review committee with grade two dangerous contact.
If he challenges the grading, the Tonga international could face a four-match suspension if unsuccessful. He could receive a three-game ban with an early guilty plea.
Kristian Woolf’s Tonga are due to play France in Halifax as part of their World Cup warm-up, which would count towards the suspension.
However, it means he could still miss the group matches against Papua New Guinea and Wales in Group D of the Men’s tournament. He would be free to play against Cook Islands in Middlesborough if he accepts the early guilty plea.
Disciplinary issues for the World Cup
Several international stars have been impacted by suspensions ahead of the World Cup in autumn.
England’s John Bateman has been included in Paul Anderson’s Knights squad, meaning his three-match ban will only see him miss the opener against Samoa at Newcastle’s St James’ Park.
The 28-year-old was sent off for a high and late hit on Leeds half-back Aidan Sezer during Wigan’s 20-8 semi-final defeat by Leeds last Friday.
Bateman will serve the first match when England Knights play France B on October 2. The second in the senior England side’s World Cup warm-up against Fiji five days later.
His third and final suspended game will be their World Cup opener against Samoa on October 15. He will be free to return for the rest of tournament.
Gil Dudson is set to miss out on a place in John Kear’s Wales squad following his three-match ban. He was sent off during Catalans’ defeat to Leeds in the Super League play-offs.