As it happened: George Burgess and Tariq Sims judiciary hearings

All the action as it happened from Tuesday night's judiciary hearings as George Burgess was suspended for nine matches and Tariq Sims was ruled out of State of Origin III.

Please refresh this page to see the latest posts. Scroll down the page for earlier posts.

10:30pm: Thanks for being with us tonight. Stay tuned to NRL.com for full coverage of Tuesday night's judiciary proceedings.

10.26pm: It's been deemed a grade one. Sims will miss just one game. He's free to play for the Dragons after Origin III. If he took the guilty plea he would have been free to play Origin. He must be regretting that decision now.

10.18pm: As we await the judiciary's decision on grading, which will determine how many matches Sims will miss, here's Sam Squiers and Michael Chammas discussing the earlier George Burgess verdict.

10.08pm: Sims may live to rue the decision to plead not guilty. A guilty plea would have allowed him the chance to downgrade to a grade one with the discount for pleading guilty, meaning 75 points and no suspension. He's lost that right and even a downgrade now is 100 points and a one-match ban.

10pm: The verdict is in. Tariq Sims has been found guilty. He will miss Origin III. David Klemmer is expected to be called into the team.

They will now work out the grading but Sims will not be able to play in Origin III even if it is deemed a grade one because he pleaded not guilty.

Huge night! George Burgess' career at South Sydney may have been brought to an end, while Sims' Origin dreams have been shattered.

Queensland will probably be disappointed with that result as many north of the border were happy that David Klemmer missed out. The Knights enforcer is now likely to be rushed straight into the team.

9.54pm: Still waiting on a verdict. It's now been 49 minutes. We are heading into Billy Slater territory. It took 54 minutes to clear him to play in last year's grand final.

9.39pm: It appears the deliberation is over. Time for the verdict as Sims returns to the room... 

False alarm. The hearing has been adjourned once again for deliberation after the judiciary chairman Bob Abood spoke with both counsels. The chairman wanted clarity around first point of contact. 

9.20pm: We've hit the 15-minute mark and still waiting.

9.06pm: The judiciary panel is now locked in a room to deliberate. We are probably 20-30 minutes away from finding out whether Tariq Sims will be free to play in next Wednesday night’s Origin decider.

If he is found guilty, you'd expect Brad Fittler will be making a late night phone call to David Klemmer, who is no doubt waiting up to find out the verdict to find out if he will play in game three.

8.58pm: McLeod putting forward a strong case on Sims' behalf. Will be interesting to see what three former players on the judiciary panel think of the challenge. Most would agree it wasn't the lateness that was the issue, it's going to come down to whether this is deemed to be high or not. McLeod wrapping up now.

"You are better placed than the match review committee to make a decision, because you have heard the explanation of player Sims," McLeod concludes.

8.43pm: McGrath has concluded, now it's Sims's counsel McLeod's turn.

McLeod is questioning whether there is clear footage of Sims's shoulder making contact with Morgan's head. He says it's not correct to say Sims veered into carelessness, as McGrath claimed. The argument being put forward is that there are many circumstances in rugby league where you can have incidental contact that injure players but aren't considered illegal.

"It's not realistic to say it was late from a football sense if you watch it in full speed."

8.32pm: Questioning completed. NRL Counsel McGrath now addressing the panel.

"It was direct contact to the head, it was high, and in circumstances where the player has passed the ball. Lateness is an element, but not a particularly importantly one in this incident. What we are dealing with is direct contact with the playmaker's head, which is high.

"There was forceful contact, forceful enough for player Morgan not only to be taken from the field but to take no further part in the game. It was slightly late, but that's not the be all and end all."

8.28pm: Sims accepts that "I think at some stage there might have been" incidental contact with Morgan's head.

Dragons forward Tariq Sims at the judiciary on Tuesday.
Dragons forward Tariq Sims at the judiciary on Tuesday. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

8.24pm: Sims is arguing that Morgan had several options available to him. Maintains that he can only make a decision once ball leaves the Cowboys halfback's hands.

NRL Counsel is trying to say that Sims knew earlier, however Sims denies it. Hard to disagree with Sims there. Cannot assume ball is going to be passed until it is.

8.17pm: We are now going through the replay, dissecting it frame by frame. Sims disagrees with the notion that he makes contact with Morgan "well after" he has passed the ball.

8.12pm: Now the NRL Counsel begins questioning Sims.

Peter McGrath asks if Sims disagrees that first contact was made with Morgan's head. Sims disagrees, stating first contact made was with his shoulder.

8.10pm: The questioning of Sims begins.

"In the point of contact I turn my head and close my eyes. At no point do I feel contact on my shoulder," Sims says.

"[My goal is] to make him play before he can sum up things and poke his nose through a hole. I felt his body contacting my chest and collarbone. I accept that I made incidental contact with his head, but with my chest and collarbone. As I was doing that I was pivoting to see where the ball was going to be so I could check and release.

"I don't agree [I was careless]. I need to play at the ball player to make him play earlier. Because he's running so fast towards me, I need to engage him as a defender. I needed to play at him."

Asked by his counsel James McLeod if he realised Morgan had passed the ball, Sims said: "No, my eyes were closed."

"Do you think you could have pulled out?" McLeod asks.

"No, he was running so fast into me I needed to make a play," Sims says. "He engaged me. The play was halted to see that Mick was alright; then the scrum was packed. There was no penalty."

8.05pm: Footage of Sims' shot on North Queensland's Michael Morgan is being played for the panel now, with six angles shown in total.

8pm: Next up is Tariq Sims, who is challenging his grade 2 dangerous contact charge. We've got the same judiciary panel and NRL counsel in Peter McGrath and James McLeod also defending Sims as well as Burgess. 

Sims needs to prove he is not guilty to play in the Origin decider on July 10. If he fails, David Klemmer will head into Blues camp on Wednesday morning as Sims' replacement.

7.55pm: Here is our story on the nine-match ban handed down to George Burgess.

7.48pm: The verdict has been handed down. George Burgess has been hit with a nine-game ban.

South Sydney general manager Shane Richardson is addressing the media on behalf of Burgess.

"I just wanted to say we’re happy with the hearing we’ve got tonight. It’s a tragedy for George and the family. George is a loving father; brother and son. He’s been an ornament at South Sydney. It will not define his career."

7.48pm: We’ve now hit the half hour mark. Still no movement from inside the judiciary room. Burgess must be feeling nervous. His season may be over. Potentially his NRL career given he hasn’t got a deal.

Burgess has now been summoned back into the room. Here we go.

7.35pm: Now 15 minutes of deliberation. Still waiting to be called back in to hear the verdict. The general feeling amongst the media is that this will be closer to 10 weeks than five or six.

7.20pm: The judiciary panel of Mal Cochrane, Dallas Johnson and Bob Lindner has now left to deliberate. Last year it took the panel 54 minutes to decide to clear Billy Slater ahead of the grand final.

It's important to note that the recommendations put forward by both lawyers can be completely discarded by the judiciary panel. Any outcome is possible.

7.12pm: Burgess's lawyer is arguing a 500-600 point penalty is sufficient. That equates to a 5-6 week ban.

6.58pm: Burgess's lawyer, James McLeod, now addressing the panel. He says: "It was serious carelessness, but it wasn't a situation he set out to attack the eyes of player Farah. It's a very serious allegation to suggest he deliberately attacked the eye.

"He is deeply regretful; deeply upset, by his conduct in this particular case."

6.55pm: NRL counsel Peter McGrath points out that Burgess has 50 per cent loading to his name given similar misconduct last year. He claims the latest offence should sit in the 800-1000 points range.

6.45pm: As Burgess's case continues, Tariq Sims has arrived ahead of his hearing.

Sims needs to prove he is not guilty of a dangerous contact charge on North Queensland's Michael Morgan to play in the Origin decider on July 10. If he fails, David Klemmer will head into Blues camp on Wednesday morning as Sims' replacement.

Tariq Sims arrives at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night.
Tariq Sims arrives at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

6.37pm: Questioning is over. McGrath now addressing the judiciary panel. He claims that Burgess's conduct was deliberate and intentional.

"Eye gouging is a pretty nasty term, but that is what we're dealing with here. It's not a tackle gone wrong ... this is something completely foreign to the game of rugby league.

"It's particularly dangerous because of the extreme danger of serious injury. It's something that game regards with complete disgust and makes no apology for coming down hard on it.

"It is telling that there are only two other incidents before you for comparison. It's more telling that one of those is from the same player.

"Player Burgess hasn't learnt [from the previous incident]. There is a pattern of deliberate behavior, nothing has been learnt."

George Burgess at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday.
George Burgess at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

6.30pm: NRL Counsel McGrath just referred to George as Sam when questioning him.

George chooses against correcting him as McGrath claims he deliberately pushed his index finger deeper into Farah's eye socket. McGrath says "you were deliberately trying to injure him to slow down the play the ball, weren't you?"

Burgess replies: "My hand should've been on his shoulder but it ended up on his face."

McGrath states that "You actually tried to work your finger into his eye", to which Burgess replies, "I'm not sure if that's a smart thing to do in front of the referee".

6.22pm: NRL counsel Peter McGrath now asking Burgess about the incident involving Watene-Zelezniak last year. Questioning whether he learned from the incident.

Can you accept that you can see a pattern here with your behaviour, Burgess is asked. He replies "I do accept that".

6.20pm: Burgess continues:

"I've been pretty upset. My career is probably in the balance. What I've done looks pretty disgraceful on the footage there. It's a shame really.

"I apologised to him on the field and after the game I went up to him and apologised again.

"I'm definitely going to change the way I play. I'm going to be a lot more cautious ... I will be more careful."

George Burgess at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday.
George Burgess at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

6.15pm: Burgess now addresses the judiciary:

"My hands ended up in a dodgy place. I wasn't thinking about it at the time. I was sort of in auto-pilot. I'm angry with myself about the situation. I want people to know that's not something I think about doing in a game."

"I was in autopilot trying to save the try and slow the play the ball down. It wasn't until after I realised I got him in the face. I was shocked really.

"Towards the end I realised I might have been on his face. I didn't realise in the tackle that I had contact with his eye. It was only until I saw the footage did I realise.

"Things are going a million miles an hour. I swear on my kids lives I didn't know I had my hands in his eyes.

"That was the most careless thing about the tackle, I was going in blind with my hands. My eyes were looking out and obscured by player Damien Cook who was in front of me on the tackle.

"I won't accept that I deliberately went out to poke his eye. I just can't accept that. It's not the kind of person I am."

6.10pm: Footage now being showed of Burgess's eye gouge on Kiwi captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak last year, for which he was suspended for a month. There's also vision of Canberra forward Hudson Young's eye gouge on Canterbury's Aiden Tolman which saw him hit with a five-game ban earlier in the year. Most would argue that Burgess is probably in a category above those. Time will tell. Remember, Young was deemed a grade three. This has been referred straight to the judiciary and deemed worse than that of Young.

6.05pm: We're underway here in a big night at Rugby League Central. George Burgess's lawyer states that his client accepts that the contact with Farah was careless. However in pleading guilty, he doesn't accept that his contact was deliberate or reckless in his actions. Footage of the incident now being showed in slow motion from every possible angle. It's going to be a hard sell for Burgess tonight.

5.45pm: Nick Ghabar, the lawyer who successfully argued to allow Billy Slater to play in last year's grand final, is overseas at the moment. Ghabar has a very good record. Both Burgess and Sims have decided to go with James McLeod as their legal representative.

5.40pm: George Burgess has arrived at League Central, accompanied by South Sydney general manager Shane Richardson and have locked themselves away in a room inside NRL headquarters.

5.30pm: Tonight's judiciary panel includes two Queenslanders, with Dallas Johnson, Bob Lindner and Mal Cochrane to sit in on both hearings. The expectation is that George Burgess, who has pleaded guilty, will be hit with a lengthy suspension for his eye gouge on Robbie Farah. Following the 6pm Burgess hearing, Tariq Sims needs to prove he is not guilty of a dangerous contact charge on North Queensland's Michael Morgan to play in the Origin decider on July 10. If he fails, David Klemmer will head into Blues camp on Wednesday morning as Sims' replacement.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.