UPDATE: Parramatta forward Ryan Matterson has defended his decision to accept a three-game suspension instead of paying a $4000 fine, a call that left league great Mark Geyer dumfounded.
Matterson took the unusual route after being charged for a crusher tackle in Sunday’s NRL grand final.
The Origin star declined the relatively small fine and will instead spend three weeks on the sidelines to start the 2023 season for the tackle on Dylan Edwards.
LIVE UPDATES: AFL day three trade news
Matterson said he couldn’t fathom why he was charged, when Panthers star Jarome Luai wasn’t sanctioned after appearing to kick Parramatta forward Isaiah Papali’i in the 24th minute of the match.
“It didn’t make sense to me,” Matterson told reporters.
“At the time I thought it was definitely a penalty, but I didn’t think it would go much further than that.
“Considering Jarome Luai is kicking players and he didn’t get cited. It makes you think ‘Where is this game heading?'”
Luai responded with an Instagram post of Matterson’s comments, along with a pair of crying emojis.
The NRL overhauled its judiciary grading system in June to allow players who commit a third offence in a finals match to pay a fine in place of suspension.
“I just feel $4000 is pretty hefty considering I have already paid nearly $4000 in fines already this year for things that are absurd,” Matterson said.
“At the end of the day I’ve got personal things to worry about outside of rugby league. I just didn’t think it was warranted.
“If you do something wrong at work, they don’t take money off you.”
Matterson explained that Edwards contributed to the problem by back-pedalling, with the Eels forward saying he tried to leave space for his opponent’s head.
“I’m not going to let him back-pedal 100 metres. So I have to stop him. There wasn’t much in it,” he said.
“At the end of the day, I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m playing rugby league, it’s just getting quicker and quicker and people are getting stronger and stronger – and the game keeps changing rules.
“The fines need to go.”
It was the third time Matterson had been charged this season and he still opted for the ban, a fact which is now copping heavy scrutiny.
Matterson’s decision to cop the ban will leave the Eels with a serious back-rower shortage to start the season, with the club losing Isaiah Papali’i to the Tigers and Marata Niukore to the Warriors.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Penrith great Mark Geyer told Triple M.
“That’s peril for Parramatta because they’re losing Niukore, they’re losing Papali’i. They need Matterson on deck. They need to be full-strength. There might be more to it but the optics of it makes Ryan look like he loves his money a bit too much.
“He’s on about $600,000-a-year. To miss three games of footy for $4,000, I don’t get it and hope there is more to it.
“That doesn’t say much about his passion to play for the Eels. They could be 0-3 to start, the Eels, after three games, who knows, they need every man on deck. The optics of it don’t look really good.”
Matterson was the only player charged out of the grand final and is unable to serve the ban in trial matches.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!