NRL hands down punishment to South Sydney over 14-player controversy

Souths were caught with 14 players on the field in their win over the Broncos.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs, pictured here with 14 players on the field against Brisbane.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs were caught with 14 players on the field against Brisbane. Image: NRL/Getty

The NRL has formally announced its punishment after South Sydney were caught with 14 men on the field against the Broncos on Friday night, with the Rabbitohs fined $15,000. The Rabbitohs' 32-6 win was marred by controversy after it emerged that they'd played with 14 on the field for a brief period in the second half.

Souths made a double interchange in the 53rd minute, with Davvy Moale and Jai Arrow coming on for Tevita Tatola and Tom Burgess. However footage showed Arrow coming onto the field while Burgess was still in possession of the ball, with Burgess immediately leaving the field afterwards.

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The NRL found that Souths played with 14 men on the field for around 15 seconds. Because Herbie Farnworth was in the sin-bin at the time, the Rabbitohs actually played with 14 against 12.

The NRL confirmed on Wednesday that they'd decided to fine the Rabbitohs rather than take the two competition points off them. Because the 14th man was only on the field for a very brief time and didn't affect the result, Souths will keep the two points.

“It shouldn’t happen,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo told ABC radio on Saturday. “We need to have controls in place to make sure that it doesn’t happen again and obviously there has to be accountability for that.

"There’s a full review well underway (and) we’ll look to finalise that on Monday. It's disappointing it's occurred. The interchange is the responsibility of the clubs and so something has gone wrong. We'll get to the bottom and we'll take the appropriate action."

Arrow told the SMH that it was actually Moale who “jumped the gun” and entered the field of play before he was supposed to. “I handed my card to old mate (interchange official) and he said, ‘Away you go,’ so I ran on to the field,” Arrow said.

Jai Arrow, pictured here on the field before Tom Burgess came off.
Jai Arrow was on the field before Tom Burgess came off. Image: NRL

South Sydney breach deemed minor by NRL

The NRL has a history of stripping competition points if teams play with too many players on the field. Canterbury were sensationally stripped of two points for a similar breach in 2009 against Penrith after Ben Roberts, the last replacement player to take the field, scored the match-winning try for the Bulldogs.

When Roberts came onto the field, no one else came off, making him an extra man who scored the match-winning try. The NRL was left with no choice but to take the two points away from the Bulldogs and award them to Penrith.

The Rabbitohs were already leading 22-6 at the time of their breach on Friday night, and the NRL deemed the indiscretion to be minor. Campbell Graham scored a hat-trick and Latrell Mitchell got two tries of his own as the Rabbitohs improved to 6-3 on the year with the thumping win in front of 40,102 fans.

with AAP

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