Sims' judiciary loss allows Fittler to fix Origin mistake
NSW forward Tariq Sims fought and lost a dangerous-contact charge at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night, sensationally denying him the chance to play in the State of Origin decider in Sydney.
Sims' judicial heartbreak means Newcastle prop David Klemmer will be rushed directly into the NSW side for nest Wednesday night's decider against Queensland.
Klemmer, who was on standby for Sims, will join the NSW camp at their Bondi team hotel on Wednesday morning.
Sims pleaded not guilty to a grade-two dangerous contact neck/head charge after a hit on North Queensland's Michael Morgan, who left the field with concussion, last Friday night.
The verdict was gut-wrenching for Sims, who looked shaken and shattered at the decision.
Klemmer was originally overlooked for Origin III but had been placed on standby for Sims.
"It's obviously not a great outcome for myself," Sims said.
"It's an emotional time. I will just take time away now and be with my family and daughters."
After the guilty decision was reached, Sims' legal team sought a downgrade, which was successful. He will miss Origin but no games for the Saints.
Had Sims originally pleaded guilty and then been successful in seeking a downgrade, he would have played Origin.
The verdict denied NSW coach Brad Fittler the opportunity retain the same side that destroyed Queensland 38-6 in Origin II in Perth.
During the hearing, Sims claimed he was engaged in the defensive line by Morgan and that contact with the Cowboys star was with chest and collarbone, not the head.
"He was running as fast as he could towards me," Sims said.
"It was important not to make a legs tackle. I needed to be in a position where I can check and release (in defence).
"I wanted to apply pressure on halfback. I do accept there may have been incidental contact with the head, but with my chest."
Asked he thought it was a fair challenge, Sims said: "Yes I do. The contact was simultaneous. I stood my ground. I needed to make a play at him because he engaged me. I turned my head and closed my eyes and braced for impact."
The incident did not attract an on-field penalty and Sims wasn't placed on report.
The hearing reached a ridiculous stage when NRL counsel Peter McGrath played slow-motion replays of the incident - angle after angle, frame by frame - for 15 to 20 minutes, all while questioning Sims about on-field defensive tactics.
Sims showed enormous restraint not to bite back at a legal representative with little knowledge of the game.
"I didn't attack him," Sims said. "The first point of contact was my shoulder."
McGrath later said Morgan was in a "position of vulnerability" and it takes a "special duty" to ensure contact isn't "forceful or dangerous".
The three-member judiciary panel of ex-NRL players - Dallas Johnson, Bob Lindner and Mal Cochrane - took 54 minutes to exonerate Sims. The entire hearing took more than two hours.
Fittler had been confident Sims would beat the charge and actually named the Dragons forward in his Blues side two days before the hearing.
NSWRL chief executive David Trodden attended the hearing to support Sims.