Booked: Sonny Bill Williams faces three to four weeks on the sidelines for a shoulder charge. Photo: Getty Images
Sonny Bill Williams of the Sydney Roosters could miss the next four games after being charged with a shoulder charge by the NRL Match Review Committee.
Williams was hit with a grade three shoulder charge in the dying stages of the Roosters 28-8 round one loss to South Sydney on Thursday night. Williams collected South Sydney prop George Burgess from a restart of play which rocked the Englishman.
An early guilty plea will see him miss three games, but if he fights the charge and loses he will be banned for four matches.
After banning the shoulder charge last year, the NRL moved in the off-season to clarify what would be deemed illegal by the Match Review Committee in 2014.
According to an edict issued to all 16 clubs, tackles where an arm is separated from the body will be not deemed a shoulder charge with officials believing such a position indicates an intention to make a legitimate tackle.
Channel Nine Commentator Phil Gould revealed in the second half of the Roosters-Rabbitohs match that NRL officials had taken the unusual step of contacting the broadcasters during the game requesting footage of a Williams hit.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said the NRL needed to find consistency on the shoulder charge issue.
"I didn't get any close ups of [Dylan] Napa's or Sonny's. But if they are shoulder charges, fair enough; give them a penalty," Robinson said post-game.
"But the refs missed one of theirs and saw the next two of ours. If they are going to get them, then get them.
"Napa's style of tackle is straight arm, separated from the body. They (referees) came about and showed us it was alright.
"If they come back and say: `Yes, they were shoulder charges', then they need to get that right.
"But if they are wrong, then they better be careful."
The incident Gould was referring to was a first-half gang tackle involving Williams, Napa and Aidan Guerra on Souths back-rower Ben Lowe that didn't earn the ire of the NRL Match Review Committee.
An NRL spokesman said it was standard procedure for the Match Review Committee to request additional footage of incidents from the host broadcaster and this could often be communicated during games.
Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello and South Sydney's Dylan Walker will escape suspensions if they accept an early guilty plea after being charged with respective grade one charges. Minichiello was charged with a dangerous contract (raised knee) while Walker came under scrutiny for tripping Williams.
South Sydney's Ben Te'o was cleared after being placed on report for a shoulder charge.