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NRL greats slam soft Lima ban

By Steve Jancetic

NRL greats have slammed the soft one-game ban handed to South Sydney prop Jeff Lima for the ugly leg twist on Manly back-rower Anthony Watmough.

The Rabbitohs wasted little time in pleading guilty to the grade two dangerous contact charge, for an act rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns described as "a deliberate act to try and maim and hurt an opposition player who's helpless."

Lima attracted widespread condemnation for his attack on Watmough, who made an unexpected return to face the Rabbitohs after hyper-extending his knee a week earlier against the Warriors.

Speaking on Sydney Radio station Triple M, Johns and fellow rugby league great Peter Sterling said the former Kiwi Test representative got off lightly over an incident Manly coach Geoff Toovey described as suspicious.

"I'd be buying a lottery ticket if I was Jeff Lima," Sterling said.

"... the leg only twisted because Jeff Lima twisted it, not because the tackle was actually turning and he went with it.

"That to me made him guilty of a very, very nasty incident."

Wrestling tactics have become more and more prevalent in the game in recent times, with the twisting of arms, legs and even heads a feature of many tackles.

Johns, who is an assistant coach with the Sea Eagles, claimed Lima's tackle went against the spirit of the game.

"It's a cheap shot," Johns said.

"(Former leading referee) Bill Harrigan said he should get ten weeks.

"It would stop guys coming in and yanking at legs."

The Rabbitohs had until midday on Wednesday to decide whether to cop the one-week ban or risk an extra match by contesting the charge at the NRL judiciary.

Instead they took just a few hours to make the call that will rule Lima out of Friday's blockbuster clash against Canterbury.

It further depletes a Rabbitohs pack already missing Sam Burgess, who is serving the last week of his two-match ban for his squirrel grip on Melbourne's Will Chambers.

While many former players called for a longer ban for Lima, the grade two charge was the same handed to Canterbury centre Krisnan Inu for his `scorpian' tackle on Newcastle's James McManus in round 10.

While Watmough finished Friday night's match - which the Rabbitohs won 22-10 - Toovey said he remained in doubt for Sunday's trip to Canberra.

There was some good news for the Sea Eagles with winger Jorge Taufua cleared over his hit on Souths hooker Isaac Luke.

Replays seemed to suggest Taufua hit Luke with a shoulder charge, but the match review committee claimed the winger was attempting to make a tackle in collecting the Rabbitohs No.9.

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