Ben Te’o won’t play again for South Sydney until the second week of the NRL finals after accepting a four-match ban.
Broncos forward Sam Thaiday has defended South Sydney’s wrestling tactics as Ben Te’o was rubbed out until the second week of the NRL finals for his chicken-wing tackle.
Thaiday was on the receiving end of Te’o’s illegal manoeuvre on Thursday night but expressed sorrow that his immense pain may have increased his Queensland Origin teammate’s punishment.
Te’o on Monday accepted a four-match ban after taking an early guilty plea that virtually ensures he’ll have at least one more match for the Rabbitohs before heading overseas to play rugby union.
The Ireland-bound back-rower’s immediate NRL career could have been over if he fought the grade-two dangerous contact charge and lost.
Thaiday said a pre-existing AC shoulder joint injury had heightened the pain Te’o caused.
“The anguish and pain you saw on my face was me carrying that injury into the game,” he said.
“Just being in that position aggravated it a bit. I didn’t think there was any harm or malice intended.
“It’s a combination of myself fighting against him and him fighting against me trying to win the play-the-ball and you get caught in those situations sometimes.”
Te’o’s suspension means he will miss Souths’ clashes with North Queensland, Canterbury and premiers Sydney Roosters, plus the first week of the finals.
Rabbitohs teammates Chris McQueen and Kirisome Auva’a also pleaded guilty to their grade-one dangerous contact charges, but will be free to play against the Cowboys on Saturday night.
The incidents have put the Rabbitohs’ wrestling tactics under the microscope.
But Thaiday felt all teams were equally guilty.
“It’s a part of our game, you’ll see those tackles in any game if you watch close enough,” said the Test second-rower.
“If you ask any football player or any coaching staff and they say they don’t do any wrestling, they’re lying to you. Every team’s doing it at the moment.
“It’s the competitive nature coming out in (players) trying to make sure we win that play-the-ball for our teams.”
Five other players were charged from round 23 action but none will be suspended if they take early guilty pleas on Tuesday morning.
Canberra’s Mitch Cornish and Cronulla’s Tim Robinson were also slapped with grade-one dangerous contact charges, while Sharks halfback Jeff Robson was charged with tripping Billy Slater.
Titans duo James Roberts and Mark Minichiello both received grade one dangerous throw charges.