Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans runs with the ball against the Eels.
Daly Cherry-Evans was handed a two-match suspension after Manly's win over Parramatta. Image by Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

DCE ‘deserves leniency’: Manly players call for change

Scott Bailey April 29, 2024

The NRL’s judicial system needs an overhaul, Manly’s players say, as their captain Daly Cherry-Evans fights to avoid the first ban of his 14-year career.

The Sea Eagles on Monday accepted a two-man suspension for Haumole Olakau’atu, but elected to try and downgrade Cherry-Evans’ charge for his role in the same tackle.

Manly’s skipper will front the judiciary on Tuesday night, and aim to argue he should only receive a $1000 fine for his role in the dangerous throw on Parramatta’s Shaun Lane in Friday’s clash.

If unsuccessful, Cherry-Evans’ ban will extend to three matches and rule him out of Magic Round against Brisbane as well as clashes with Canberra and the Dolphins.

But Sea Eagles players are miffed as to how the situation has got this far, adamant their captain should have received some kind of discount for his clean record.

Across 313 games for Manly, 22 State of Origin matches for Queensland and 21 Tests for Australia, Cherry-Evans has faced one prior charge, in 2018, and never been banned.

Daly Cherry-Evans talks to a ref for Queensland.
 Over 313 NRL games and 22 State of Origin matches, Cherry-Evans has never previously been banned. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS 

“He definitely should be (given a discount),” star fullback Tom Trbojevic said.

“If someone comes in and plays their first game and it’s their first offence it’s (considered to be) the same thing as someone who has played 313 first-grade games.

“You’d like to think there’s some leniency.

“I don’t think it’s in the NRL policy, but it’s something to be looked at. Maybe even a 50 per cent (discount) or something like that.”

Highlighting Manly’s argument, South Sydney’s Taane Milne copped his fifth charge in 20 months following his cannonball tackle on Melbourne’s Cameron Munster last weekend.

But in the eyes of the judicial system, he and Cherry-Evans have the same history in terms of priors.

“If you’ve been a ‘clean skin’ for so long, it should count for something,” Luke Brooks said.

“He didn’t intend to do it. Whereas then you see some … I’m not saying some players do intend, but if they’ve got a fair (sized) rap sheet.”

In the AFL earlier this month, Brisbane Lions small forward Charlie Cameron was able to avoid a ban for rough conduct based on his clean record and off-field assessments.

Cameron had played 207 AFL games and been fined five times.

Charlie Cameron of the Brisbane Lions.
 AFL star Charlie Cameron recently avoided a rough conduct ban thanks to his clean prior record. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

The NRL previously had a system based on stronger loading for prior offences and good-behaviour discounts, but that was scrapped with critics labelling it too confusing.

On Monday, Manly’s players also questioned how two players could face two-match bans for the same tackle.

“He deserves some kind of leniency for good behaviour,” Jake Trbojevic said.

“During the game I didn’t think it was too bad, and then there was a lot of commotion going on so I didn’t really get to look at it.

“But the two (players suspended) for two weeks seems a bit weird.”

If Cherry-Evans’ ban sticks, it is expected Jake Arthur would come into the Manly team at No.7.