Harrison ‘disappointed’ as Dane is suspended

HALIFAX coach Karl Harrison has said he is “bitterly disappointed” by the one-match ban handed down to young back rower Dane Manning last night.

Manning, the former Leeds, Featherstone and Batley player, was suspended by the Rugby Football League’s disciplinary committee for his part in the second-half brawl in Fax’s penultimate Northern Rail Cup group game against Featherstone.

Manning, who was also fined £50 after being charged with a grade A striking offence, will now miss Sunday’s Co-operative Championship opener against Hunslet, along with his back row colleague Craig Ashall, who is also out for one week after entering an early guilty plea on a grade B charge.

Three Featherstone players were also charged: Rovers captain Stuart Dickens and substitute Andy Bostock both entered early guilty pleas and got two and one game bans respectively.

Prop Michael Haley, who was sent off by referee Robert Hicks along with Ashall, was the only one of the three to face the panel and escaped without a suspension.

“I’m bitterly disappointed for Dane more than anything,” said Harrison.

“He’s thrown one punch, but they’re having a bit of a crack down on these things at the moment and he’s paid a pretty high price.

“That’s the way it is, and I don’t have a problem with it as long as they’re going to be consistent through the season.

“All everyone wants is a level playing field.”

But Harrison, who now faces the prospect of reshuffling his back row for the home date with Barry Eaton’s Hawks, believes the case does highlight a flaw in the game’s new Australian-style early plea system, which allows players to opt out of a hearing and guarantee the minimum punishment if they have a clean record over the preceding 12 months.

“We took an early plea with Ashy, and we’d have done the same with Manning if we could have done,” said Harrison.

“But he was sent off for Batley last season, for a high tackle late in a game that was clumsy rather than malicious.

“The two offences were very different, so I think it’s been harsh on the kid.

“It’s a new system though and I’ve no doubt they’ll tweak it over time.”

Harrison also revealed the results of the MRI scans on injured forward Iain Morrison’s knee.

Morrison, who has missed his side’s last two matches after leaving the field against Rochdale two and a half weeks ago, has been confirmed as having cartilage damage and will need minor surgery.

“Iain shouldn’t be out for long,” said Harrison.

“Considering how it looked at the time, it could have been a lot worse.”

St Helens hooker James Roby looks set to be sidelined for around three weeks with the leg injury he sustained in the 17-16 defeat at Huddersfield on Sunday.

Initial reports suggested the influential England forward could be out for much longer with a torn thigh muscle.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Saints coach Royce Simmons said. “When somebody like Robes comes off you fear the worst but it’s not as bad as we thought.”

New Zealand utility player Lance Hohaia, who took over from Roby on Sunday, will start in his place against Hull at Langtree Park on Friday.