FURIOUS Wakefield Trinity boss Chris Chester labelled the disciplinary system “farcical” after revealing his injured forward Chris Annakin will miss the rest of the season following an illegal challenge that saw Wigan Warriors captain Sean O’Loughlin receive only a one-game ban.
The England skipper was dismissed for the first time in his career following the reckless high tackle in Friday’s game, which Wigan won 22-18.
But the sport as a whole was stunned when he was subsequently given such a lenient punishment by the RFL disciplinary panel on Tuesday night.
Loose forward O’Loughlin was originally charged by their match-review panel with a grade C offence which normally carries a suspension of two to three matches.
However, the 33-year-old made a personal appearance in Leeds and the disciplinary panel then took into consideration mitigating factors before reaching their decision.
Yet Chester is now furter incensed as he has since learned Annakin, 25, will miss three months of action due to a knee injury suffered as he collapsed following O’Loughlin’s tackle.
“There’s no consistency whatsoever with the disciplinary system,” said Chester.
“It’s a joke. Farcical. I get on well with Lockers - I was his team-mate - and this is not a pop at him or the Wigan club.
“But I’ve now lost a player for 12 weeks due to a knee injury sustained in his high tackle.
“At the start of the season, the RFL spoke about being able to go outside of the match review panel gradings when a player is injured as a result of an illegal challenge.
“We saw it with John Boudebza when he had his Grade B offence upgraded and was banned for four games rather than the previous maximum of two.
“They’ve gone outside it here but actually gone the other way – reduced it and given O’Loughlin a one-game ban.
“We’ve had no one from the RFL on the phone asking for a medical report, seeing if Chris Annakin’s jaw’s been broken or even just asking how he is.
“Every time I’ve been to the disciplinary there’s been a medical report from the opposition physio but not here and now we’ve just had scan results back that show Chris has actually ruptured his medial ligaments.
“The decision-making processes around the disciplinary are just wrong and they have to change as the game is becoming a laughing stock.
“They have taken O’Loughlin’s unblemished record into account but that didn’t happen when Andy Yates was up earlier this year for us and, after 10 years with no offences, he got a three-game ban.
“I’m fuming. It seems, now, players are getting bigger bans for tackling around the legs than the actual head.”
Chester was in charge at Hull KR when Boudebza, their France hooker, was suspended following the tackle that saw Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton ruled out for the season with a knee injury suffered during the opening round of the campaign.
With O’Loughlin, the tribunal took into consideration his guilty plea, that previous unblemished record throughout his 15-year professional career and the fact that the dismissal occurred in the first half of the match.