Piper cops two weeks
By MITCHELL DALE
PROMISING young Macksville backrower Chris Piper has copped a two-match suspension for his North Coast no-show on Saturday.
Piper failed to turn up for North Coast's NSW Country championship match against Central Coast at Forster on the weekend without giving any word of notification to Division officials.
The offence comes with an automatic 10-day suspension, starting immediately.
Piper missed the Sea Eagles' 28-all draw with Bellingen on Sunday, however captain-coach Paul Davis said he would have missed the game anyway with a leg injury.
Davis also suggested the injury was the reason for Piper missing the North Coast match, while it has also been alleged he believed the match was cancelled due to wet weather.
"I'm not 100 per cent sure about why he didn't play, but I have heard on the grapevine he was told that even if he had a medical certificate for his leg he would still be suspended," Davis said.
"I think there was also a bit of a mix-up because he heard on the radio that all Group 3 matches were cancelled due to bad weather and thought he didn't need to turn up."
Macksville president Bill Richardson said the Sea Eagles would appeal to the Group to have Piper's suspension reduced, making him available for this weekend's blockbuster with Orara Valley.
"Chris had a medical certificate for his leg so we will send it to the Group," Richardson said.
"Hopefully he will play against Orara, the guy obviously has ability and would be very handy to have playing this weekend.
"We have got to support Chris, but at the same time we realise he should have called someone."
Group 2 president and North Coast management committee member Greg Mayhew indicated the penalty was likely to stand, although he said it shouldn't affect Piper's chances of representing North Coast in the future.
"It is an automatic rule that if a player fails to meet representative commitments they will receive a 10-day suspension after North Coast completes their obligations to the Country Rugby League," Mayhew said.
"Because North Coast were beaten on Saturday, Chris was suspended from Saturday afternoon.
"His failure to arrive threw North Coast into disarray and we had to find another player.
"Luckily, Josh McCartney (Taree) was at the ground and agreed to play.
"But Piper's absence left North Coast without strength in the forwards, which is where they were bombarded."
Piper's absence could also have far more sinister affect on his own career.
North Coast coach Mark Morrison arranged for the Newcastle Knights recruitment officer Warren Smailes, who only intended to watch the Under-18 match, to stay around for the first grade match to keep an eye on Piper.
"He probably hurt himself more than anyone else because there were blokes there who wanted to have a look at him," Morrison said.