England will be without Sam Burgess for Saturday's World Cup group game against Ireland after he was given a one-match for a high tackle during his side's opening 28-20 defeat by Australia.
The South Sydney forward was put on report by referee Henry Perenara for the 63rd-minute challenge on Brisbane second rower Sam Thaiday which left his opponent concussed. A specially convened international match review panel charged Burgess with a grade A offence and handed down the suspension.
England have until 11am today to accept the sanction or to send Burgess to face an international disciplinary tribunal at the Rugby Football League’s headquarters at Red Hall, Leeds, this evening. Their coach, Steve McNamara, could opt to give his star forward the week off, knowing he has Canterbury Bulldogs front-rower James Graham ready to take his place for the match against the Irish at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium.
Graham was left out McNamara’s team for last Saturday’s game at Wembley without explanation, although it was thought to be owing to a breach of team discipline. The former St Helens favourite, who captained England on their 2010 Four Nations campaign Down Under, is believed to have been among the players who broke an alcohol ban in the aftermath of the team’s embarrassing defeat to Italy 10 days ago.
England could also have the loose forward Sean O’Loughlin back to take Burgess’s place. The Wigan captain sat out the games against Italy and Australia to nurses an Achilles injury which disrupted the end of his Super League season but he is nearing a return to full fitness.
In last night’s Group A Rugby League World Cup match, Fiji beat Ireland 32-14 in front of a record crowd at Spotland in Rochdale, after leading 12-4 at half-time. Akuila Uate scored a hat-trick of tries for the winners.