NRL won’t close loophole as JWH firms for sensational round one return

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Should suspended players be allowed to include Test matches to shorten their NRL bans? The rule won’t change, which is good news for Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

Australia News, Australia Headlines

The NRL won’t close the loophole that allows players to include Test matches as part of an NRL suspension as Jared Waerea-Hargreaves looks set to be available for the Sydney Roosters in round one of the 2024 season.

Waerea-Hargreaves has served three games of his ban after the Roosters reached week two of the finals, and another three matches are expected to be wiped off if the Kiwis make it to the Pacific Championships final. The Roosters are also expected to ask NRL judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew to include the New Zealand Maori All-Stars fixture as part of the ban, which would leave Waerea-Hargreaves free to play in round one next year.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Stefano Utoikamanu scuffle following a high shot on Api Koroisau, which cost the Kiwi enforcer another lengthy ban.NRL fans have asked in the past how a player can be picked for a Test when already suspended and clearly unavailable to play. What makes the case of Waerea-Hargreaves even more interesting is he would have been well down the Kiwis’ front-row pecking order and no guarantee to feature against Australia or Samoa in the Pacific Championships.

Sebastian Kris was sent off in Canberra’s loss to Cronulla in round 27 and later banned for five weeks.“I don’t think an NRL ban has to be served in the NRL. If you think of it the other way, what if a player does something in a Test match, gets banned for six weeks, and you can only serve that suspension for international games. It would basically take two years to serve because we only play three Tests a year. That rule doesn’t work either.

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