COMMENT:

Without doubt, it seems, some NRL players are more adept at doing 9 to 5 jobs than trying to forge a career in the professional rugby league arena.

That Canberra Raiders forward Hudson Young got away with an eight-game ban for trying to gouge the eye of New Zealand Warriors player Adam Pompey isn't surprising for a code that has struggled to bring its protagonists in line for yonks.

What is surprising, though, is people, including Young's victim, openly defending his barbaric act.

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Never mind what angle you view the incident on TV, it's impossible to exonerate the 21-year-old from a heinous act he maintained throughout his hearing somehow vindicated him because he had made no contact with Pompey's eye.

This comes from a bloke who already had served a five-week suspension on a similar charge earlier this year.

From where most civilised people take their perches, Young should be banned from any form of contact sport. Offer him counselling, a hair cut and encouragement to find meaningful employment in fields such as plucking fruit or pheasant feathers where he can channel his inherent desire to use his nimble fingers more productively.

However, some may argue the Raider can't possibly be too adroit at gouging eyes either if he was dumb enough to make a second attempt.

Pompey reportedly told NRL counsel Peter McGrath he agreed that what happened on the field should stay on the field, to the detriment of other players' health and safety.

Say what?

It's the sort of misguided sense of loyalty that is threatening to plunge sport into an abyss of vile acts, such as assault and battery, in the face of overwhelming evidence of guilt.

Perform such acts anywhere else and you'll find yourself in a dock in the court of law, plea bargaining for a lesser sentence on jail time.

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"Although I'm disappointed with their decision, I'll accept my punishment and learn from it," Young said afterwards. "I'll now focus on returning to training this week and doing everything I can for the team."

No, there should be no place for this joker in any platform where others are at risk. His Raiders contract, which expires at the end of 2021, should be terminated despite coach Ricky Stuart's absurd assertion that Young's attack was pertaining more to stupidity than the eye gouging some people are making it out to be.

In his defence, Young claimed his hand had "slipped on to the face" from Pompey's hand during the tackle as he tried to deny the rookie winger a try, prompting him to move it away quickly.

Pompey, who stood up from the tackle with his eyes clenched, reportedly had testified, via video link, he had felt no pressure around his face or eye. His gesture isn't likely to elevate him to the political status of his namesake, Pompey the Great, of the Roman BC era, anytime soon.

Gripping someone's face like a tenpin bowl isn't something that happens twice in the space of a season by coincidence. It is ingrained in Young's constitution and, one could argue, something he got away with through the age-group ranks on the way to entering professional arena.

Put another way, he just can't help himself.

Even appointing Sam Burgess the South Sydney Rabbitohs captain in the NRL competition hasn't worked in keeping out of committing dumb fouls on the field. Photo/Photosport
Even appointing Sam Burgess the South Sydney Rabbitohs captain in the NRL competition hasn't worked in keeping out of committing dumb fouls on the field. Photo/Photosport

All of which takes us to South Sydney Rabbitohs' Sam Burgess who pleaded guilty to pulling the hair of Sydney City Roosters player Billy Smith on Thursday night.

The English import forward came in with a blatantly high tackle with a teammate on Smith before slamming him to the ground and then grabbing a tuft of hair to slam his face pretty close to the ground.

It seems the Rabbitohs somehow adhere to the cockamamie ritual that appointing a recidivist offender of the mould of Burgess to assume the mantle of captaincy will somehow turn him into a more responsible player and absolve him of what some like to dress as "silly infractions".

Here's the rap sheet on Burgess — it's his fifth charge in the past two seasons and his third this year.

The hair-pulling incident last Thursday was Burgess' 16th NRL judiciary charge since 2010 and resulted in his 11th match banned.

You somehow get the impression that awarding Burgess the Clive Churchill Medal in South Sydney's 2014 grand final win for playing 80 minutes with a broken cheekbone as a "tough man" offers him the licence to deliberately foul.

He had the audacity to glare down a reporter during a post-hearing media scrum when asked if he was intending to revisit his method of playing on account of a rash of guilty verdicts.

"No," he had replied belligerently after a pregnant pause.

It doesn't help when former players Brett Fittler and Billy Slater try to rationalise Burgess' blunders as trivial acts for someone who thrives on skirting the boundaries of the rules.

"It's quite strange you see Sam Burgess get off a [high tackle] charge earlier this year that resulted in a concussion to Matt Moylan [who] didn't play any further part in the game," Slater said on The Sunday Footy Show on TV.

Well, it's not strange at all. It's what frustrated fans have become quite accustomed to, not just in league but numerous other codes.

Assault is assault, no matter where it is carried out.

Until codes and the media stop trying to justify such acts as some sort of brain explosion or accident and start treating them as premeditated reactions out of desperation, the process will remain confined to the farcical proceedings of kangaroo courts.