NRL 2022: James Tamou one-week suspension for referee scolding, charge of inconsistent conduct downgraded by judiciary

Tigers skipper James Tamou will have at least one more game in his NRL career after receiving a demotion from the NRL justice system over an anti-conduct charge.

Wests Tigers skipper James Tamou is free to play in Round 25 after being downgraded by the NRL Judiciary on his charge of inconsistent third-class conduct on Tuesday night.

The veteran propsman will now miss just one game as he fears a two-game ban could have ended his NRL career as he is out of contract for 2023.

Tamou has been slapped with a third-rate misconduct charge for calling referee Ben Cummins “damn incompetent” in the last minute of the soul-crushing 6-72 loss to the Roosters at the SCG.

He was initially jailed for dissent but then sent off for insult as frustration overwhelmed him after a record-breaking defeat that sees the club close to picking up its first wooden spoon.

The 33-year-old arrived with wife Brittney and Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe for the lengthy 80-minute judicial panel hearing of Michael Hagan and Bob Lindner.

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Tamou had to endure a marathon of 56 minutes of deliberation before he found the demotion had been successful after the panel unanimously agreed his actions didn’t justify two weeks on the sidelines.

That means he can face the Raiders in the final game of the season.

“I’m pretty excited about what happened. I accept my guilty plea and do not condone this behavior,” Tamou said after the hearing.

“I’m pretty happy to be able to play with the boys one last time.

“If the result tonight wasn’t good, it would be hard to live with myself knowing that this was my last game of the weekend.

“That was primarily on my mind, letting the boys down, especially with such a young group. Act like I don’t want to portray them [was disappointing] and I will not condone my deeds.”

Tamou seems keen to play again next season but said retiring after 14 seasons in the NRL is still an option.

“Playing with them again would be unreal if it’s my last game in the NRL,” he said.

“As soon as I feel like I’m behind the eight, I’ll be the first to raise my hand. But I still feel like I can compete at a high level and contribute to a team.

“We’ll see how the off-season goes because there’s a lot to digest this year.

“Who knows? It could be the last time I get dressed on Sunday. Everything is on the table, including pension.”

NRL adviser Lachlan Gyles pointed out that it wasn’t an isolated incident and that Tamou’s frustrations with Cummins began in the third minute when he felt Roosters players had their hands on the ball every time he carried him forward had.

Tamou protested at the time and Cummins clearly told him “don’t start me early”.

Another incident ensued with two minutes remaining when Tamou dropped the ball and blew up Cummins, who penalized him for backchat.

“If I was in my right mind, I would have considered contesting that,” he said during the hearing.

“Everything that had happened had clouded my mind. I went completely out of character, threw him (Terrell May) a ball and said nothing about a captain’s challenge.

The Premiership winner said he was “embarrassed and appalled” and visibly distraught when he was shown the vision of being sent off for the first time in the last minute.

“In 304 games I’ve played I can put my hand up and say I’ve never verbally abused a referee,” he said.

“After the game I was very remorseful, not because of the fact that it would help me, but because of my core values, because I wanted him to know I didn’t think that of him.

“It was totally out of character.”

Tamou said he immediately realized the enormity of the situation when legendary coach Ron Palmer told him to calm down and breathe.

Sitting with his head and hands in the shed as his teammates walked in, he listened to interim head coach Brett Kimmorley’s speech and then told an NRL official and then the club’s media manager that he wanted to hold the post-game media conference, so he could apologize.

Tamou didn’t have a chance to apologize to Cummins that night because he had already left the stadium when Tamou left the media room.

“I am embarrassed and appalled by this behavior,” he said. “I can not see it.

“I train kids, so how am I supposed to explain this behavior to them and how are they supposed to look up to me when they see this on TV?”

Nick Ghabar, representing Tamou, capitalized on a similar incident from Round 11 when Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, the Roosters’ enforcer, was sent into the Sin Trap for using an obscenity while arguing a decision with referee Gerard Sutton.

That verbal spray received a first-class charge, and Ghabar argued it was a far more serious offense as Waerea-Hargreaves questioned Sutton’s integrity and, in essence, had a vendetta against him for a number of years.

But Gyles argued that someone of Tamou’s experience “shouldn’t have thrown the toys out of the stroller” and that he was acting hostile and aggressive.

“It (a three-game ban) is a strong deterrent for players of all skill levels and a demotion would send out the opposite of how officials should be treated,” arguing that younger players would see it as acceptable behavior if Tamou not correct would be penalized.

It’s not the first lengthy deviant suspension this season, after Melbourne’s Brandon Smith suffered a three-game ban for calling Adam Gee a “cheating bastard”.

Originally published as NRL 2022: James Tamou cops week-long suspension, inconsistent conduct charges downgraded by the judiciary NRL 2022: James Tamou one-week suspension for referee scolding, charge of inconsistent conduct downgraded by judiciary

Nate Jones

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