NRL: Prior facing lengthy ban

Matt Prior was sent off in the 55th minute of Friday's game between the Dragons and Cowboys. Photo / Getty Images
Matt Prior was sent off in the 55th minute of Friday's game between the Dragons and Cowboys. Photo / Getty Images

If history is any guide then St George Illawarra's Matt Prior looks set for a lengthy suspension after he was referred straight to the NRL judiciary for a striking charge on North Queensland's Johnathan Thurston.

Prior became the first player sent off in the 2012 season when he was marched in the 55th minute of Friday's game for a high tackle on Thurston in their loss to the Cowboys.

The 24-year-old will face the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night.

It's been four years since the NRL match review committee moved a matter directly to the judiciary and that was Cronulla's Ben Ross who elbowed Melbourne's Cooper Cronk in the head.

Ross copped seven weeks for that hit and given Prior's tackle was of the same nature he could face a similar ban.

Of the nine players referred straight to the NRL judiciary since 2002, suspensions averaged nearly 11 weeks with five weeks the lowest ban and Melbourne's Danny Williams serving the longest suspension of 18 weeks.

Storm forward Williams' king hit on Wests Tiger Mark O'Neill - which left him hospitalised - is regarded as one of the most callous incidents in the game's recent history.

Prior's hit sent a brief scare through the Queensland State of Origin camp with star playmaker Thurston sprawled on the ground before battling to get to his feet.

More dramatic scenes followed when Prior was escorted through the tunnel by stadium security and police officers to the widespread booing from the 15,006 fans at Dairy Farmers Stadium.

Australia halfback Thurston was cleared of concussion but took no further part in the match.

Dragons coach Steve Price said after the match in Townsville that Prior was disappointed with himself and felt he'd let his teammates down, but said an action like that wasn't in the second rower's nature.

Meanwhile four others were charged from round nine by the match review committee on Monday, with Parramatta lock Reni Maitua, North Queensland's James Segeyaro and Newcastle back-rower Joel Edwards all facing one week on the sidelines.

Maitua was hit with a grade one careless high tackle charge for his shot on Canterbury's Michael Ennis, while hooker Segeyaro was charged with a grade two careless high tackle on St George Illawarra captain Ben Hornby.

Edwards was given a grade one dangerous throw charge for his tackle on Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce.

Roosters hooker Jake Friend was charged with a grade one careless high tackle on Newcastle's Alex McKinnon but will escape suspension.


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