Lawton anxiously awaits the indictment

The NRL’s new legal system could cost Karl Lawton an extra week on the sidelines after Manly’s attacker became the second man to be sent off this season.

Lawton is set for a nervous Saturday morning, after marching just nine minutes into the Sea Eagles’ 40-22 loss to South Sydney on Friday night.

The Manly second rower was sent off after lifting Cameron Murray onto his line, before momentum took over and the Rabbitohs captain went head-to-head.

Opinions were largely divided after the incident, with Phil Gould, Billy Slater and Brad Fittler adamant that he should not have been sent off, while the likes of Greg Alexander and Benji Marshall were happy with the decision.

Either way, it meant Lawton became just the second man in the NRL era to be sent off for a dangerous throw, joining Canberra’s Nick Cotric in 2019.

Cotric also got a rank three for his tackle on Tim Lafai, able to get a 25 percent reduction on his penalty points for missing just three games.

The story may not be so kind to Lawton.

Even if he gets the same rate on Saturday, the NRL’s new simplified system means he’ll miss at least four weeks with an early admission of guilt.

There is also a possibility that he will be referred directly to the judiciary, leading to a five or more game suspension.

“He’s devastated, the poor boy,” said Manly coach Des Hasler.

“He’s such a hard worker and plays the game at that pace. There was certainly no malice in the tackle.

“At the same time, there will be some sort of consequences to that tackle.

“Would you send it away or throw it in the trash? I thought maybe a decision could be contested there.

“Anyway, he wouldn’t stay on the field.”

Lawton’s absence will be somewhat made up for by the return of Haumole Olaka’atu from his suspension for Manly against Wests Tigers.

It means the Sea Eagles will boast their first pick in the back row for the first time this year, with Josh Schuster making a solid return from injury against the Rabbitohs.

Rumors continue to circulate about Schuster’s future, with reports that his management has approached the club with a request to move to five-eighth.

“There’s that intention and opportunity ahead, but right now he’s doing a great job of playing where he is,” Hasler said.

“Where he plays, the side serves very well.”

Any chance of that move happening in the foreseeable future seems unlikely, with veteran Kieran Foran at No. 6 and eager to carry on into 2023.

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