Melbourne Storm and Queensland Maroons backrower Felise Kaufusi has come under scrutiny after a “disgraceful” elbow in the face of young Sydney gun Sam Walker.
Early in the second half of Storm’s 26-18 win, 19-year-old Walker attempted to tackle an angry Kaufusi.
As they fell to the ground, Kaufusi landed on top of the Roosters youngster. And when Walker’s head hit the ground, Kaufusi’s right arm – carrying the ball – slammed into Walker’s head.
And, crucially, Kaufusi appeared to raise his arm at the last second in what could be perceived as a deliberate action.
A year ago, Kaufusi was banned for two weeks for a similar elbowing incident in which he smashed his forearm into the head of Eels star Ryan Matterson – despite Matterson being the ball carrier on that occasion.
Stream every game of every round of the 2022 NRL Telstra Premiership season live and ad-free during gameplay on Kayo. New to Kayo? Test now for 14 days free of charge.
‘What did I just see?’ Storm Star’s contender for the bombed try of the season
‘What a Moment’: Storm Flyer’s dream debut as Roosters dealt a brutal punch to Keary – 3 big hits
On Saturday night, Greg Alexander referenced that previous moment when he said on Fox League: “He has history. Do you think he moved his elbow? Okay I’ll say it, I think he meant what we saw. He knew exactly what he was doing.”
Andrew Voss replied: “He knew what he was doing. He knew where his forearm was in relation to the defender. This is again for after the game (recap).”
The duo weren’t the only ones to express their concerns about the Storm star’s actions.
Daily Telegraph journalist Buzz Rothfield tweeted: “The pursuit while Walker was down was a disgrace.”
Walker’s face was bloodied from the incident and he was immediately taken off the field for an HIA – although he would later pass the concussion test.
But the referee and video referee seemed to overlook the incident, for which Kaufusi, 30, avoided a penalty or subsequent punishment.
Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy said he believed the NRL’s video referees “would have stepped in” if Kaufusi had broken the rules.
“I didn’t see it, I don’t really look at the screen, I watch what’s happening on the field, so I didn’t really see what happened, but I don’t think he was punished for it,” Bellamy said.
“So you’re thinking that if there was something wrong with that, the bunker would have stepped in.
“I remember Sam left but I don’t remember, I didn’t know what happened. So ultimately I won’t comment on anything I haven’t seen and you’d think the bunker would have picked it up if it wasn’t by the rules.”
MORE NRL NEWS
IN REPORT: Titans skipper charged with chicken wing tackle on South’s prop
BIG HITS: “Great Sign” in the “Remarkable” form of the cowboys, “pedestrian” kites exposed
‘MESSY’: Griffin slams ugly display while Ennis blasts ‘rotten’ dragons
Kaufusi was widely considered lucky to only have been handed a two-week suspension for the incident last season which saw Matterson miss a few weeks due to the effects of the concussion.
“I found it embarrassing, cowardly and I didn’t think the NRL showed any courage at all,” Paul Kent continued NRL 360 back then.
“A two-week sentence for that? I think we’ve been talking about concussions and player safety and the long term damage that knockouts cause for a number of years and yet we still see an incident like this. He’s not going to be sent away or ten in the box of sins… He should be sent away and he should expect six to eight weeks.”
NSW coach Brad Fittler also said the punishment was insufficient, telling 2GB radio Wide World of Sports: “Four to six weeks might have been better.”
Kaufusi has never admitted guilt for the incident, nor has he apologized to Matterson.
On Saturday, the Storm star delivered an excellent try for debutant Grant Anderson early in the game against the Roosters before scoring himself in the second half.