Newcastle Rugby League officials have sent a strong message about off-field behaviour after suspending Kurri Kurri Bulldogs player Jonah Lisiua from all aspects of the game until 2019.
The sentence was handed down by a Newcastle RL disciplinary panel on Thursday night and prevents Lisiua, younger brother of former NRL player Terence Seu Seu and son of local football legend Marty Lisiua, from playing, coaching or spectating the sport for 18 months.
Lisiua was found guilty of multiple breaches of the National Rugby League code of conduct during Saturday’s Coalfields derby between the Bulldogs and Cessnock at Kurri Sportsground.
Video evidence shows Lisiua, a spectator at the time, standing on top of the fence enclosing the ground and being verbal to nearby. He then runs through the crowd towards the dressing sheds and makes contact with Goannas prop Kurt Warden, who had been sent to the sin-bin with 15 minutes remaining of a fiery encounter.
“The league definitely had to take a stance on it,” Newcastle RL chief executive officer Matt Harris said.
“You just cant tolerate any type of behaviour like that. It’s disappointing that not only a spectator has done it, but a current registered player. I’m not surprised the panel dealt with it as strongly as they did.”
The contact was a point of contention with the panel – judiciary chairman Phil Riddell, Jason Allen and Carl Hutchinson – deeming it an “attempted punch”. Kurri officials argued otherwise.
Harris said Lisiua showed “remorse” and was “embarrassed” by his actions.
The final six months of the punishment can be wiped based on good behaviour, which means Lisiua may return to the field this time next year.
Out of the same fixture Seu Seu also copped a suspension, one match for a careless high tackle, and will miss Saturday’s clash with Western Suburbs at Harker Oval.
In the second and final catch-up game this weekend South Newcastle host Macquarie at Townson Oval on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Hunter Sport High’s Luke Huff was named in the Australian Schoolboys side at Wollongong on Friday.