19 February 2024

Wigan’s Harry Smith free to feature in World Club Challenge after escaping ban

19 February 2024

Harry Smith is free to feature in Wigan’s World Club Challenge clash with Penrith after escaping a ban for his tip-tackle on Castleford’s Luke Hooley in Friday night’s Betfred Super League opener.

The 24-year-old was sent to the sin bin following the incident but received a Grade B charge because the RFL’s match review panel found that “the unnatural actions of the tackled player significantly contributed to the outcome of the tackle”.

Grade B charges generally incur a one-match ban, but previous conduct can provide a mitigating circumstance and the half-back, a pivotal figure in Wigan’s hopes of emulating St Helens and claiming the title next Saturday, got away with a £250 fine.

Four red and nine yellow cards were issued in the opening round of Super League fixtures, with three players given Grade E charges and referred to tribunals which could rule them out for between four to six games.

Hull’s Franklin Pele, Castleford’s Liam Watts and Catalans’ Michael McIlorum were all sent off for head contact in their respective matches.

However, RFL chiefs insist the eye-catching number of sanctions were not unduly affected by new tackle rule protocols which came into play ahead of the new campaign.

Robert Hicks, the RFL’s director of operations and legal, said: “Of the 13 cards shown, 10 of the incidents would have led to a card being shown under the framework that applied in 2023.

“It was a highly successful opening round of Betfred Super League fixtures, and it is right that the focus is already turning to the second round of matches, and also the Betfred World Club Challenge.”

Besides Watts, Castleford also saw Charbel Tasipale handed a one-match ban for a grade C head contact offence, leading the club to demand an “urgent meeting” with officials over the sanctions.

“We’re left a bit confused so we need to get our house in order pretty quick,” said the club’s director of operations Danny Wilson.

“To do that, we need some explanation of why they are graded the way they are. We’ve asked for an urgent meeting with the powers that be for some explanation.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox