Herman Ese’ese send off, high shot on Brian To’o, Gold Coast Titans vs Penrith Panthers, referee crackdown, Magic Round

League great Gorden Tallis has backed the decision to send Titans forward Herman Ese’ese off for a high shot on Brian To’o, saying “that probably was a send off even when I was playing.”

Ese’ese became the third player to be sent off during Magic Round when a “lazy” arm collected To’o.

Ese’ese shot out of the line in the 37th minute to make a tackle that went very wrong.

To’o was flung to the ground like a ragdoll and instantly his Penrith teammates rushed in.

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The NRL had warned clubs about a serious crackdown coming this round on foul play and as Fox League commentator Warren Smith said about Ese’ese: “he must have missed the memo.”

“He realises the extreme nature of the mistake… and this is a sin bin at a minimum,” Smith added.

“When you come out of the line like that, the margin for error is so small.”

After the pushing and shoving simmered down, referee Adam Gee gave Ese’ese his marching orders for a “direct” and “forceful” play.

“Direct, forceful, you charged off the line and you’re off-side as well. You’re off,” he said.

And Smith found it hard to disagree

“Given what we’ve seen prior to this one, you had no option but to send him straight from the field,” he said.

Fox League analyst Cooper Cronk couldn’t understand how Ese’ese could make such a huge error after watching the seven games before his team’s clash with the Panthers.


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Raiders star Josh Papalii was sent off on Saturday and even in the game right before Ese’ese’s, Tyrell Fuimaono was sent off too. That’s on top of the 13 sin bins that had happened in previous games as well.

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“Considering this has been in since Friday night, Herman Ese’ese has seen seven games go before (his), seen the reports, seen the sin bins and send offs we’ve had this weekend, you need to steady your feet,” Cronk said.

“He was off-side to started with, flies out of the line — I like the intention — but had to steady his feet.

“To leave his arm out there lazy and makes contact with To’o’s head, what else does a referee have to do but to send him from the field?”

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The crackdown hasn’t been welcomed with open arms from the rugby league world. In fact, it was straight up slammed following Friday’s games.

Tallis is sceptical about the crackdown at this stage and said the timing of it over the competition’s big Magic Round weekend was “poor.”

“I love rugby league, I just want it to be the game I played as a kid,” he told Sunday Night with Matty Johns.

“But we know that the kids that play at eight, nine, 10, it’s a different game to the NRL and I don’t want to ruin the spectacle, I don’t want the oxygen to leave the stadium, I don’t want to spoil what we’ve got as a game.

“But I’m happy for them to clamp down because they took the shoulder charge, they’ve taken the punch and our game’s still as great as ever.

“But today with Magic Round with 120,000 people coming through the gates, I think the timing was poor.”

However, Tallis and most fans were in agreeance that Ese’ese’s “brain fade” was definitely worthy of a send off.

Titans coach Justin Holbrook admitted he was disappointed with Ese’ese’s decision after what had preceded the final game of Magic Round over the weekend.

“I was disappointed with what he tried yeah,” Holbrook said.

“We were the last game. We had all the time in the world to get our own house in order and it was just a completely reckless decision on his behalf and we paid the price for it.

“He definitely didn’t mean it, but we had all weekend to look at it and we spoke about it and so I don’t think he would have an answer for it either, but it definitely hurt us.”

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