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Panthers superstar rubbed out of final

Penrith Panthers forward Viliame Kikau will not feature in the club’s must-win preliminary final after he was found guilty of a grade one dangerous throw on Tuesday.Kikau was pinged for a tackle on Sydney Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves during Friday’s thrilling 29-28 victory at Panthers Stadium.Although the charge didn’t warrant a suspension on its own,…

Penrith Panthers forward Viliame Kikau will not feature in the club’s must-win preliminary final after he was found guilty of a grade one dangerous throw on Tuesday.

Kikau was pinged for a tackle on Sydney Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves during Friday’s thrilling 29-28 victory at Panthers Stadium.

Although the charge didn’t warrant a suspension on its own, Kikau faced a one-match ban because of carry-over points from a previous incident.

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On Tuesday evening, the Panthers confirmed Kikau had been found guilty by the NRL Judiciary, and would not be available to play until the NRL Grand Final, if the Panthers qualify.

“The guilty verdict will see Kikau serve a one-game suspension, which is the same ban he would have received had he entered an early guilty plea to the charge,” the club said in a statement.

“Kikau’s suspension potentially opens the door for Kurt Capewell to re-join the Panthers starting side, while Tyrone May and Billy Burns are also options in the back row.”

As reported by Fox Sports journalist James Hooper, the NRL judiciary panel of Ben Creagh, Sean Garlick and Dallas Johnson took 15 minutes to reach a verdict.

Kikau also released a statement following the bombshell decision: “While I’m obviously disappointed with the outcome, I respect the decision of the NRL Judiciary.

“I’ll now focus on doing everything I can at training to help the team prepare for the Preliminary Final.”

The Panthers have won 17 consecutive games, but will need one more to secure a spot in the NRL Grand Final.

Kikau is one of the most damaging forwards in the competition, and leads all second-rowers for tries, linebreaks, linebreak assists and tackle busts this year.

Speaking on Fox League’s NRL 360, The Australian journalist Brent Read discussed the impact Kikau’s absence would have on the Panthers.

“He’s a huge out for them, because down that side of the field, you’ve always got to be aware of him,” Read said on Tuesday evening.

“He’s a devastating ballrunner, we all know that. He puts defences on edge.

“Kurt Capewell, will all respect to him, he’s a very good footballer, but he’s not Viliame Kikau, particularly with the ball in his hands.”

Before the NRL Judiciary heard the case, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary told Wide World of Sports Radio they were prepared for the worst case scenario.

“Whatever they come up with, we’ll deal with,” Cleary said.

“I think this is the third charge Vili has had in the last two seasons featuring the word ‘dangerous’ and all three times, no-ones gotten hurt. I just think if Vili was going to do something dangerous, someone would get hurt.”

On Monday evening, veteran broadcaster Phil Gould argued Kikau should not be charged for the “pedantic” incident.

“I can’t see why either of them have been charged. This, again, is really pedantic. It’s stupid,” Gould told Channel 9’s 100% Footy.

“It’s not just that their legs are above the horizontal, it’s got to be most likely that the first point of contact for the man with the ball is going to be head or neck on the ground.

“In neither of those instances could you argue that the first point of contact from the man with the ball was going to be head or neck on the ground. It wasn’t. They were both virtually on the ground.

“We can’t be rubbing people out for that.”

Parramatta great Peter Sterling was also “disappointed” players could be rubbed out of finals for incidents like Kikau’s.

“Yes, he did lift, but I don’t think he got Jared into a particularly dangerous position. You could see the way that JWH landed that he was okay,” Sterling said.

“I understand that there was a case to answer there but I am one of those people who believe that to miss a finals game for that kind of incident, it’s over the top.

“It’s an annual conversation we have but I do tend to think that sometimes our game should look at the importance of matches in regards to the sentence awarded. I don’t think he should miss a final for that tackle.”

The Panthers will face either the Parramatta Eels or South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday, October 17 for a spot in the NRL Grand Final.

— With James Matthey

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