Off the Wall

This week the focus will again be on the judiciary, given that the Broncos are likely to challenge the grading Sam Thaiday has been for the dangerous throw in yesterday's match against the Manly Sea Eagles.

The judiciary's hands are effectively tied by the way the whole system operates. And to my mind is the problem.

If a player elects to seek a judiciary hearing the sheet should be cleared and the judiciary can impose any penalty it wants - because it has the task of dissecting video and other evidence and ought to be able to arrive at its own decision on penalty.

In the Thaiday case, the offence has been given a grading which carries specific points, with 100 points equating to a week's suspension.

What the Broncos will do is probably seek a "downgrading" of the charge. Then  the judiciary will be limited in its consideration by the tight rules surrounding gradings.

But the whole judiciary process needs to be reviewed.

Perhaps some of the criticism I make, and others make, of the judiciary does not take adequate account of just how restricted it is because of the process.

The old style, pre-Super League judiciary worked well.

It worked well because it had flexibility.

The current process does not have flexibility - the judiciary cannot mitigate a penalty when it involves a suspension from an origin match, a semi final, or a grand final.

It ought to be able to determine the penalty on the basis of the impact it will have.

The best way to achieve that is to allow a player, and his club, to have the judiciary decide the case on its merits...on the evidence put before it, and tested by counsel representing the NRL and the player.

There is a risk in that for a player - the judiciary might decide on a higher penalty.

I thought the Thaiday dangerous throw was in the "middle range". But that is just one opinion. The review panel clearly views it as more serious than that.

Let the "independent judiciary" decide the penalty, if any, based on the totality of the evidence put before them.

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