Sims found guilty, suspended for Origin III

St George Illawarra back-rower Tariq Sims will miss State of Origin III after being found guilty of a grade one dangerous contact charge at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night.

Sims was initially charged with a grade two dangerous contact in the aftermath of the Dragons' 22-14 win over North Queensland for his second half tackle on Cowboys skipper Michael Morgan.

NRL.com live blog: Tariq Sims judiciary hearing

However despite the guilty verdict, Sims's counsel James McLeod successfully argued the tackle be downgraded to grade one.

As a result, Sims will not miss any games for the Dragons given his selection for New South Wales on Monday night. If the attempted downgrade was unsuccessful, Sims would have missed three games.  

It took the judiciary panel consisting of Dallas Johnson, Bob Lindner and Mal Cochrane 55 minutes to determine Sims's guilt; albeit a short clarification from both counsel's regarding their arguments around the point of first contact was required in this time.

NRL counsel Peter McGrath convinced the panel that Sims "veered into carelessness" by making first contact to Morgan's head. 

"It was direct contact to the head, it was high, and in circumstances where the player has passed the ball," McGrath said.

"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.

"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."

On the contrary, McLeod argued that the play wasn't careless and the player couldn't pull out of the simultaneous play.

Although it was accepted by Sims "there might have been" incidental contact to Morgan's head; McLeod had the panel consider such contact was made by Sims's collarbone and chest.

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

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

Sims was granted the opportunity to reflect on the tackle: "I felt his body contacting my chest and collarbone. As I was doing that I pivoted to see where the ball was going.

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

Sims will be available for selection in the Dragons' upcoming Round 17 game against the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Sunday, July 14.