11-week suspension


Port Macquarie Sharks will consider appealing the lack of severity in a suspension handed by the Group 2 judiciary to Macksville player Cameron Blair, sent off in Sunday's first grade clash at Hastings Regional Stadium.

Blair was dismissed by referee Nathan Grace following an incident when the Sharks led 38-18.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of making deliberate contact to the head of opposing player Jared McCarthy and was outed until July 17 effectively ruling him out for 11 weeks and missing the Sea Eagles' next 10 matches.

Sharks official Les Murphy said while he agreed the penalty was substantial the club's coaches joined the players' parents in their outrage at the incident, with civil action a real possibility.

"This kid is still seriously ill in hospital and we are all devastated by what's happened," Murphy fumed.

"Once he recovers there are other considerations such as his place in the representative squads and the contract he was negotiating with Cronulla Sharks.

"Through no fault of his own, Jared's future is now up in the air."

In arriving at a penalty, Monday night's hearing offered Blair two weeks sentencing discount.

One week for the admission of guilt and one week for non - appearance at the judiciary in the past four years.

When considering a penalty the panel took into account the serious injury to McCarthy and Blair's double appearance in 2001.

One of those appearances was an identical charge which ironically came after Port Macquarie cited Blair after an incident in the under-18 grand final.

Blair was given an eight week suspension on that occasion.

Macksville secretary Bill Richardson said Blair was contrite and the club would not be appealing.

"Cameron pleaded guilty and we have accepted the sentence.

"If the Sharks do take the matter further I'd be interested in their motivation."

Evidence was given that a Macksville video showed the 'non seriousness' of the incident but the video itself was not tendered by Blair.

"Our video tells a completely different story and under the rules we could not produce it on Monday," Murphy said.

"But if we find grounds for appeal, that video can become evidence.

"Jared will have cat scans on Thursday and at some point after that the coaches and club executive will meet his parents to consider where we go from here."

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