A moment of madness saw Brisbane’s Martin Taupau sent to the bin early in Friday night’s blockbuster clash with the Rabbitohs – and earned him a three-game suspension.
Already behind after try-scoring machine Alex Johnston opened the scoring for South Sydney, Taupau lost his mind in the 12th minute on a regulation carry, leading with his knees while running at defender Campbell Graham.
His legs were raised so high that his foot was above the defender’s knees and his knee at shoulder-height when the pair collided heavily.
The NRL judiciary announced Taupau’s suspension on Saturday, handing him a three-game ban with the early guilty plea.
Teammate Jesse Arthars was also slapped with a one-game suspension for a careless high tackle on Blake Taaffe.
Fox League commentator Andrew Voss was in shock, exclaiming: “Marty, what are you doing!?”
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High tackle or EPIC try saver? | 00:55
“That’s ridiculous,” he added. “There’s no reason for him to do that!”
Michael Ennis said: “If that connects with Campbell Graham in the jaw, that breaks his jaw.”
Taupau was sent for ten but was lucky to avoid a send-off, so dangerous was the incident.
Referee Ashley Klein said: “The knee’s made contact. You’re on report, you’re in the bin. That’s dangerous.”
Expert Anthony Griffin added: “I’ve never seen that before … I think he’s lucky to stay on the field.”
Corey Parker said it was: “quite possibly one of the dumbest, most irresponsible acts that I’ve seen in recent years. I can’t think of anything worse.
“What we just see there from Marty, let’s put it into context. A lot of people would be having a laugh but this is dumb and irresponsible… Marty’s taken a goose-step into contact and has intent to raise the knee into the defender there, being Campbell Graham.
“It’s a send-off. If that’s not a send-off, what is? I say that with the utmost respect.”
He added: “We saw last week with Reagan Campbell-Gillard, he’s got a lengthy suspension. This has got to be worse. If this is worse, he has to be sent!”
Cooper Cronk replied: “I agree, this should have been a send-off. It was an easy option to do the ten in the bin. This is going to be more than four weeks that Reagan Campbell-Gillard got. He’s gone for a long time.”
In the second half, Michael Ennis said: “How he is on the field I’ll never know.”
Both coaches in the post-match press conferences also condemned Taupau’s knee, with Jason Demetriou questioning what is considered a send-off in the modern game.
“It’s dangerous, he gets his 10 in the bin. I don’t know what a send-off is these days – if you have to fracture someone’s skull before we take it serious,” Demetriou said.
“I thought they (the Broncos) handled it pretty well. We played 20 minutes against 12 men and the Broncos kept turning up for each other. I’ve got no complaints on how the game was refereed… It’s on us to own that.”
Broncos coach Kevin Walters revealed his veteran prop had received a warning regarding the technique during the week.
“He got a warning through the week and Marty was well aware of it. We’ve got to get that out of his game because I thought tonight for him starting he got a bit excited because he hasn’t started for us all year,” Walters said.
Walters was pressed on the warning and said: “A warning letter through the week from the NRL, which Marty was aware of. Marty’s not a dirty player but he’s certainly got to get that out of his game.”
The NRL world was left appalled at the bizarre incident.
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