The Melbourne Storm’s Felise Kaufusi got off scot-free from this ugly incident from last weekend that is only half the problem for the NRL.Melbourne Storm star Felise Kaufusi has escaped a fine at the NRL judiciary after his elbow on the Roosters’ Sam Walker, but hasn’t escaped criticism for the act.Early in the second half of the Storm’s 26-18 win over the Roosters, Walker attempted a tackle on the Origin forward as Kaufusi fell on top of him.Stream every game of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free During Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-days free now.Walker’s head hit the ground and he was forced from the field for a head injury assessment, which he ultimately passed and was able to continue playing.However, after Kaufusi was banned for two weeks in 2021 for a similar incident with Eels star Ryan Matterson, Fox League commentator Greg Alexander questioned whether Kaufusi had lifted his elbow before coming in contact with Walker.“Okay, I’ll say it, I think he meant what we saw. He knew exactly what he was doing,” Alexander said.At the time, Storm coach Craig Bellamy said: “If there was something that was wrong with it the Bunker would have stepped in.”But the judiciary threw a curveball, fining Kaufusi $1800 on a grade one charge, which appeared to be an admission they believed he had done something wrong.Fox League’s NRL 360 panel were baffled that despite the NRL citing wrongdoing, it didn’t believe it was worth cracking down with time on the sidelines.“Where the game has let itself down is with the Match Review Committee giving him a fine,” Paul Crawley said. “So they’ve conceded something happened in this tackle because they’ve given him a grade one charge but that grade one charge is an $1800 fine. And the Storm can challenge that at the judiciary and face the threat of a $2500 fine, which is really toilet paper to these NRL clubs — it means nothing.“But if that had started with a grade one being one game or two games, they wouldn’t be contesting it if it was going to two or three games.”Paul Kent agreed: “Even after we had the whole upheaval over summer and they threw out the book and started again, they still don’t know what they’re doing in there.“If you’ve elbowed someone in the head which is what they’re alleging he’s done, it should be at least some time on the sideline, not a monetary fine. Whether you believe he’s innocent or guilty is irrelevant in this case. The fact is, if it’s worthy of a charge, it’s worthy of a missing games for a deliberate act of foul play.“The fact is the Match Review Committee have lost the plot. They are continually siding with the offenders rather than those who have been damaged against them. It is unacceptable. You’re trying to get this foul play out of the game and you come up with the softly softly penalties.”Braith Anasta said that the fine pointed to the fact the NRL believed something was wrong and it deserved a penalty: “If he’s done something wrong, he should be suspended.”Crawley said that the NRL’s messaging of protecting players from contact to the head set a precedent.“If there are 20 of those over the weekend, do we let them all off?” Crawley asked.But when speaking with Benji Marshall and James Graham, Marshall believes Kaufusi shouldn’t have been charged at all.“I believe he’s in a position where you get taught that when you get tackled you find your front, all he did was try to find his front,” Marshall said. “The fact that Sam Walker’s underneath him is Sam Walker’s fault. He’s been dominated in that tackle, it’s not Kaufusi’s fault.”He said it was “bad luck for Walker.But Graham agreed the fine was the issue as the NRL hedged their bets.“It’s either nothing to see here or he’s facing matches,” Graham said. “It’s not a fine, it’s just not, that’s just the wrong message to send.”Graham said it would be too difficult to prove intent and expected Kaufusi would get off.But after the decision was handed down and Kaufusi was cleared, Kent slammed the “negligent” match review committee and judiciary panel one more time.“The judiciary was brought in with the players on the panel because they were supposed to understand the game from the player’s point of view,” he said.“They’re negligent in that area. The judiciary panel tonight was negligent in that area in finding him not guilty and I think the committee was negligent in not making a sterner sentence …“But you know what you fight a strong case and I’ve seen unwinnable cases won because they fought the smart case.“There’s no doubt Melbourne fight a smart case whenever they’re at the judiciary so well done to Melbourne and well done to Kaufusi and let’s just hope we don’t see any concussions this weekend.”Originally published as ‘Don’t know what they’re doing’: NRL slammed over Kaufusi fine
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