NRL rejects Roosters’ request to shorten Waerea-Hargreaves suspension

Julian Miller
By:
Julian Miller
01/02/2024
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NRL says ‘No’ to Roosters’ Waerea-Hargreaves request

Waerea-Hargreaves is still serving a seven-match ban he picked up for dangerous contact and striking against Tigers in Round 26 last season.

News Insights

  • Waerea-Hargreaves out of Roosters’ season opener in Vegas.
  • Waerea-Hargreaves has been suspended for dangerous contact and striking since Round 26 last year.
  • Roostered requested the NRL alter his seven-match ban and let him serve his seventh match at the 2024 All-Stars match.
  • The NRL declined Roosters’ request.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will have to serve out the entirety of his seven-match ban for dangerous contact and striking, according to the NRL. The 6’4” prop had served six matches of his ban already, three with Sydney Roosters and three with New Zealand. 

The NRL denied Roosters’ request to postpone the final match of his suspension so that Jared Waerea-Hargreaves could play in Roosters’ Las Vegas season opener against Brisbane Broncos.

Roosters try to find NRL loophole

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves came under a huge amount of scrutiny following an incident against Tigers in Round 26. The prop came in with a late hit to the head on a defenceless Wests Tigers player late in the match. 

The play resulted in mayhem almost immediately as players rushed in to protect their teammates. Waerea-Hargreaves was the only player to lose his cool completely though. The 35-year-old headbutted Tigers’ Stefano Utoikamanu during the scuffle. 

Utoikamanu called the action “totally unnecessary,” and the NRL later penalised Waerea-Hargreaves for the hit and his following conduct. The NRL handed him a lengthy, seven-match suspension from rugby league play for dangerous contact and striking. 

Waerea-Hargreaves served three matches of his seven-match ban at the end of the 2023 NRL season. He served a further three matches after he was included in New Zealand’s Pacific Championships squad. Because he still had one more match left on his ban, Waerea-Hargreaves was set to miss his club’s season opener in Las Vegas in March. Roosters tried to change that. 

The Sydney-based club filed an appeal with the NRL, asking the league to allow Waerea-Hargreaves serve the final match of his suspension at the 2024 NRL All-Stars match instead of during Roosters’ season opener versus Broncos at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. 

This kind of appeal is perfectly legal under current NRL rules, with some people calling it a loophole. Whatever the case, the NRL was not having it here. The league’s judiciary chair, Geoff Bellew, rejected Roosters’ request, informing the club that the 2024 All-Stars match would not count towards suspensions. 

Waerea-Hargreaves will have to watch on from a distance as his teammates take on the Broncos in Vegas. 

End of the the road for Waerea-Hargreaves

The 2024 NRL season is expected to be Waerea-Hargreaves last ever season as a first-grade rugby player. The 35-year-old has played 14 seasons so far in the NRL. All but one have been for Sydney Roosters. 

Provided he can stay healthy, Waerea-Hargreaves will probably finish his career as Roosters’ most capped player in history. He is just seven matches behind the current record holder Mitchell Aubusson, who made 306 caps. 

While it’s no doubt disappointing for Waerea-Hargreaves to miss such a marquee event for both Roosters and the NRL, he should feel better knowing his return will be against Roosters’ bitter rivals South Sydney Rabbitohs. If he plays, that match will be Waerea-Hargreaves 300th as a Roosters player.

The betting sites have the Roosters as one of the favourites to win the 2024 NRL Premiership, so it could prove to be a fairytale season for Waerea-Hargreaves, even if it got off to a bad start.