Rugby league greats Andrew Johns and Billy Slater have clashed over the penalty handed down to Dolphins hitman Felise Kaufusi.
Kaufusi can accept a three-game ban, or fight it and risk four, for a grade two dangerous contact charge stemming from a brutal hit on Newcastle playmaker Jackson Hastings.
Kaufusi rushed out of the defensive line on Friday night to level Hastings, but was sin-binned for collecting the Knights player late and in the back.
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“I can actually find grounds for Felise to fight that (charge),” Slater told Wide World of Sports’ Sunday Footy Show.
“I think he pulled out of it late, and when the ball left Jackson’s hands he (Kaufusi) was committed.”
But Slater’s comments were not received well by Johns, who thought the punishment was insufficient.
“It’s the cheapest shot in the game,” Johns said.
“Hitting blokes in the back after they’ve passed the ball.”
Slater pointed out Kaufusi had been lauded for a number of big shots in recent weeks, which kickstarted a back-and-forth between he and Johns.
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“But the ball was in their hands, when he hit Brandon (Smith) and Hudson Young… (when he hit Hastings) the ball was four or five metres out of his hands,” Johns said.
“It’s the cheapest shot in the game. If you want to smash someone in the back, give away 20 kilos to a bloke and smash them in the back… they are coached to do it, I hear it at club level.
Kaufusi sin binned over brutal Hastings hit
“The backrower has got to get out and put pressure on the half, make him play early.
“When the ball goes you can’t just smash blokes in the back when he’s not even looking. Someone is going to get seriously injured.”
Slater, though, is adamant Kaufusi could beat the charge at the judiciary.
“I agree that was fractionally late, and I’m not for that play,” he said.
“But if you look at the slow motion, when Felise commits to the tackle he is committed when the ball is in (Hastings’) hands.”
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