HULKING Orange City Lions centre Tatafu Na’aniumotu is set to face the Central West Rugby judiciary on Wednesday night after being sent off for stomping in last Saturday’s clash with CSU Bathurst.
Na’aniumotu, who has been one of Orange City’s most potent attacking options this season, was shown a straight red card after allegedly stomping on CSU captain Hugh Medway, before throwing a punch at the students flanker Tom Greenaway.
“The judiciary notice will be sent out [today],” Central West Rugby chief executive officer Peter Veenstra said.
“From there, we’ll deal with the issue.”
Orange City coach Steve Hamson said he was sceptical as to whether the incident had deserved a straight red card.
“I spoke with the referee after the game, and it seemed a bit like he had seen one thing and the touch judge had seen another,” Hamson said.
“Anyone who has seen Tatafu play knows he runs with a high knee action, and regularly palms or pushes people away. When he’s carrying the ball, with defenders tangled around him it would be hard to say whether he has intentionally stomped on the defender, or whether he was just pushing the bloke away rather than punching.
“At the end of the day no one ended up on the deck, no one was maimed, but the referee interpreted it the way he did so we have to let the cards fall how they will.
“If that means Tatafu fronts a judicial hearing, so be it.”
Na’aniumotu was one of several players embroiled in the infamous brawl between Orange Hawks and Orange CYMS in 2011, which resulted in Hawks being kicked out of the Group 10 rugby league competition.
Na’aniumotu was suspended for over 12 months for his involvement in the melee. The star centre has had a clean record since his defection to union at the beginning of the 2012 season, and Hamson said he hoped Na’aniumotu’s past would not play a part in any decision the judiciary makes.
“You’d hope it doesn’t affect anything,” Hamson said.
“I thought he was a bit of a scapegoat in the Hawks incident, but this type of thing isn’t in his nature, and I just hope the issue is seen for what it is.”