Dragons star forward cops first NRLW ban

St George Illawarra's Teuila Fotu-Moala has become the first NRLW player to be suspended.
St George Illawarra's Teuila Fotu-Moala has become the first NRLW player to be suspended.

St George Illawarra star Teuila Fotu-Moala's NRLW season is over after she became the first player to be suspended in the league's flagship competition for women.

The Kiwi prop was on Tuesday night unsuccessful in downgrading a level-two dangerous contact charge on Brisbane's Lavina Gould, leaving her banned for three weeks.

The ban is likely to put pressure on the NRL to reconsider it's women's judicial system, which carries the same points penalties for the men's in every charge.

In effect though the punishments are much tougher, given there are only three rounds in a regular season and a grand final, as opposed to the 25-week men's competition.

The ban could also carry into Fotu-Moala's New Zealand representative commitments, if the Dragons do not make the grand final.

Fotu-Moala did not speak in Tuesday night's 25-minute hearing or to awaiting media as she left the NRL's headquarters.

In a watershed case for the women's game, the 25-year-old was the first player charged with an offence in the competition.

It meant neither party were able to call on any prior footage for men's games to compare previous gradings.

However her lawyer Daniel Thomas argued the contact was at the lower end of carelessness, and that her former Broncos teammate Gould fell into the tackle.

"Gould had no small part in placing herself in a vulnerable position," Thomas said.

"That being her head under the arm.

"It would be difficult to envisage ... a crusher tackle that posed a lesser degree of seriousness."

But the NRL's lawyer Peter McGrath disagreed, arguing it was of a moderate to high level of danger and that the game had to come down on offenders.

He also claimed that the Dragons forward had re-gripped her arm around the Brisbane hooker in her team's loss, and added force as her legs came off the ground.

"The unacceptable risk of injury on a player could be catastrophic," McGrath said.

"The game makes no apology for taking a strong stance for the safety of players."

It took the three-person panel of Sean Garlick, Mal Cochrane and Tarsha Gale 10 minutes to side with McGrath, ending Fotu-Moala's season and dealing the title favourites' a crucial blow.

Australian Associated Press