Manuokafoa hit with two-match ban for Smith horror tackle

Widnes' Manase Manuokafoa, pictured during his spell with Bradford
Widnes' Manase Manuokafoa, pictured during his spell with Bradford

Widnes prop Manase Manuokafoa has been banned for two matches for the tackle that left Saints scrum-half Matty Smith with a serious leg injury.

The 31-year-old was found by a Rugby Football League independent operational rules tribunal last night (Tuesday) to have made dangerous contact on the England half-back in the 39th minute of the Vikings’ pre-season friendly against St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium nine days ago.

Read more: {http://www.sthelensreporter.co.uk/sport/more-sport/cunningham-condemns-horrendous-tackle-on-smith-1-8356662 |Cunningham’s fury at Manuokafoa tackle|}

It means Manuokafoa will miss Widnes’ opening Betfred Super League game against Huddersfield on Friday week and their round two fixture at Wigan on February 24.

Manuokafoa, who was charged by the RFL’s match review panel with a grade C offence, had the option of submitting an early-guilty plea withdrawn due to the serious nature of the injury.

The incident, which occurred in Smith’s first match for his home-town club since rejoining them from Wigan in the close season, infuriated St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham.

Although the club have yet to publicly announce the extent of the injury, Smith underwent surgery last week. He has already been ruled out of St Helens’ opening League game against Leeds on February 9 and could be sidelined for up to 10 weeks.