THE TWO-MATCH ban handed out to Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield has earned the RFL a blast from club chief executive Gary Hetherington.
Hetherington has accused the governing body of “inconsistency” after Sinfield was charged with a Grade C head-butting offence.
Sinfield was sent-off late in last Thursday’s 24-24 draw with Castleford Tigers following a clash with visiting full-back Luke Dorn.
The Grade C charge – decided by the RFL’s match review panel – meant he faced a maximum three-match ban, which would have ruled him out of next month’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves.
By submitting an early guilty plea Sinfield settled for a two-game suspension and avoided an appearance before the RFL disciplinary committee tonight.
The England skipper will sit out Friday’s trip to Salford Red Devils and the home derby against Bradford Bulls seven days later, but will be available to return for the Cup showdown.
Neither Sinfield nor coach Brian McDermott would comment, but Hetherington said: “Unfortunately this is another example of the pattern of inconsistency displayed by the Review Panel of the RFL.
“Earlier this season, Kris Welham of Hull KR was charged with an unprovoked head butt and received a Grade A charge and no suspension.
“I can fully appreciate the growing chorus of discontent throughout the game with the performance of the RFL in these matters.”
Ironically, Welham’s butt was on Dorn and referee Ben Thaler – who handled last week’s game – was also in charge. On that occasion he awarded Tigers a penalty, but took no further action.
Rhinos officials are disappointed Sinfield has been given no credit for his previously clean record in a 17-year career, which has reached 533 senior games.
The feeling in the Leeds camp is that Sinfield acted as he did because he believed he was about to be butted.
The sentencing guidelines for a head-butting offence are: Grade A-B: makes light contact; Grade C: makes full contact; Grade E-F: makes full contact in an aggressive and violent manner.
Salford could be without hooker Tommy Lee and second-row Matty Ashurst on Friday, due to suspension. Lee has been charged with Grade A punching - which carries a maximum one-match ban - and a Grade B shoulder charge, with a tariff of one to two games, in Sunday’s win at Hull KR.
He is eligible to submit an early guilty plea to one of the offences. Ashurst faces a Grade B charge of making dangerous contact and will be suspended for Friday’s match if he takes an early guilty plea.
Salford’s Josh Griffin has also been charged with Grade A punching, along with Hull KR’s Burns and Adam Walker, but is eligible to submit an early guilty plea, which would see him avoid a ban.
Meanwhile, Rhinos prop Kylie Leuluai - who made his return from a calf injury - suffered a back problem in the draw with Castleford.
McDermott said: “He came back on and sallied through. Mitch Achurch started the game with a bad knee. He has got a bang, a dead-spot right in his quad, where it’s into his kneecap.
“That’s pretty painful for him, but everyone else came through all right.”