Newcastle Thunder player facing mammoth ban for ‘physical assault’ of referee

Newcastle Thunder forward Alex Foster is facing a lengthy suspension after receiving a serious charge by the RFL’s match review panel for the ‘physical assault’ of a match official.

Former Castleford Tigers star Foster was sent to the sin bin after pushing referee Michael Smaill early in Newcastle’s Championship win over Bradford Bulls last Friday.

The match review panel has charged Forster with ‘Grade F physical assault of match official’, with a grading that typically brings a suspension of at least eight matches.

A tribunal will determine the precise length of ban but, with only nine matches left of Thunder’s season, he is unlikely to play many more games this year.

Foster is not the only player facing a long suspension, as Cornwall’s Luke Collins has also been referred to tribunal on a Grade F charge, for unacceptable language which is described in the panel’s minutes as “homophobic”.

Collins was dismissed early in Cornwall’s League One defeat at Doncaster last weekend for dissent, and is now also facing a ban of eight or more matches which would end his season.

The tribunal will also rule on Sheffield Eagles’ Joel Farrell, charged with Grade D striking; Oldham’s Luke Nelmes, charged with Grade D dangerous contact; and Halifax Panthers’ Matty Gee for Grade D dangerous contact.