Newcastle Knights forward Mitch Barnett has promised to change after being hit with a six-game ban for an off-the-ball incident against the Penrith Panthers.
The Knights are priced at 5/4 to finish in the top eight of the NRL this season but will now be without Barnett for the next six games.
The incident happened in the 32nd minute of Saturday’s game when Barnett struck Penrith’s Chris Smith in the jaw with his forearm.
Barnett was immediately sent from the field in Bathurst by match referee Peter Gough and the NRL judiciary panel has now dished out the punishment of six games.
Barnett’s defence had claimed that he did not see Smith until the last second, something the judiciary did not buy.
It is not the first time that Barnett has landed himself in hot water with the judiciary. Indeed the latest ban is his sixth offence since 2015 and he accepts he has to change his ways.
“I got a fair trial and one thing I take out it is that I hope Chris is alright,” Barnett said. “I have sent him a text message and we have exchanged text messages.
“The lesson I learned is just that I obviously can’t be careless with my actions in terms of player safety. I have to be better there, and I learned a lesson. It is disappointing, but I will go away and do my time and do what is best for the team going forward.”