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Matterson denied bid to convert NRL ban into fine

3 minute read

Ryan Matterson's bid to turn his three-match ban into a $4000 fine has been denied by the NRL, after he initially opted to take the on-field sanction.

RYAN MATTERSON of the Eels. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Ryan Matterson will be forced to sit out the first three games of the NRL season after Parramatta failed in their bid to have his suspension changed to a fine.

Matterson drew controversy last October when he opted to take a three-game ban for a crusher tackle on Dylan Edwards in the Eels' grand final loss, rather than cough up a $4000 fine.

At the time, the NSW State of Origin backrower claimed the fine was too "hefty", and hit out at the NRL for regularly changing rules and leaving players out of pocket.

Matterson, however, had a change of heart in November and appealed to the NRL's judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew to revert the sanction to a fine.

The Eels were told there was no process available through the judiciary to change Matterson's sanction, with any plea or decision considered final.

Parramatta are believed to have subsequently made applications to the NRL hierarchy to have the decision overturned, but were again told there was no mechanism available for the change.

The club has now conceded Matterson will sit out matches against Melbourne, Cronulla and Manly.

Matterson's absence will leave the Eels short on back-row depth.

Isaiah Papali'i headlined a list of players to exit the club over the off-season, with Marata Niukore and Oregon Kaufusi also gone from the pack.

Recruit J'maine Hopgood is likely to start at lock with Matterson out, while Jack Murchie and Bryce Cartwright are options to start on the right edge with Shaun Lane on the left.

The issue brings into question the process around players entering pleas at the end of the season.

Ordinarily, players are given until the Monday or Tuesday after a game to enter a plea ahead of the next round.

The Eels had asked for an extension after Matterson's charge, given it was handed down on the same day as a fan event and in the wake of their grand final defeat.

Matterson's next match was at least five months away, having missed out on Australia's World Cup squad, but an extension of only a few hours was offered.

Parramatta are of the opinion that had Matterson been given more time to think about his decision, he would likely have taken the fine.

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