BEN Ham’s hopes of playing in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby grand final rest in the hands of the judiciary.
Wanderers have challenged the yellow card that the breakaway received in the 43-17 win over Southern Beaches in the preliminary final.
The card was Ham’s third for the season which triggers an automatic one-match suspension, ruling the 2014 Anderson Medal winner out of the grand final against Hamilton at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.
However, under the ARU disciplinary guidelines, which the NHRU adopted this year, yellow cards can be challenged when resulting in a temporary suspension.
Ham was sent to the sinbin in the 19th minute against Beaches for repeated team infringements. Referee Jarryd Logan ruled that the breakaway had incorrectly come through the ruck to tackle Beaches hooker Tyson Watene. It was the third penalty in quick succession against Wanderers. The previous two were for offside.
It was the second time this season that Ham has been sent to the bin for repeated team infringements. The first was in the 74-17 win over Singleton in round one. His second yellow card was for a lifting tackle in the 36-10 victory against University in round 15. The hearing is set for Wednesday night.
Wanderers president Brett Derwin said the club was “not in a position to comment” on the Ham matter.
The Newcastle Herald understands that as well as challenge the veracity of the yellow card, Wanderers have questioned the severity of the sanction.
Meanwhile, Wanderers fly-half Luke Simmons has been declared a certain starter for the decider.
The competition’s leading point-scorer strained ligaments in his ankle at training last Wednesday. It was feared that Simmons’ season was over. However, he sat on the bench last Saturday.
“He is one of the best healers I have met,” Wanderers coach Viv Paasi said. “We could have got half a game out of him but we were able to put him on ice. He will train this week and we expect him to be right.”
Hooker Phil Bradford and lock Marc Christensen limped off against Beaches but are expected to play.