Jake Carl to play in semi-final after avoiding suspension
BROTHERS point-scoring sensation Jake Carl has been unstoppable this year but it looked like something which happened in a fraction of a second could have been the only thing to put the brakes on a stunning year.
Carl was charged with a grade one contrary conduct charge after his team's 38-10 win over Wests at the weekend, if the skilful fullback was suspended he could have been watching on as Brothers faced minor premiers Hervey Bay on Sunday.
But in a startling twist, an early guilty plea means Carl is free to play against the premiership favourites, opening the race to the 2015 title in the process.
Brothers captain-coach Mat Templeman would not comment directly on Carl's case but said the pressure his player felt during the week had been relieved by the tribunal's decision, and he was expecting a big game from the competition's leading point scorer.
"The weight was really lifted of his shoulders now," Templeman said.
"Jake wanted to put all this behind him and just play footy."
From the minute Carl was sent from the field late in the game against Wests he was disappointed with the way a great season could have been cut short if he was to be suspended. And from the footage that was broadcast it looked like Carl was in or a long spell on the sideline.
Templeman said he had been confident all week the fullback would be free to play and his team had been preparing with Carl in the number one jersey.
Any change to the preparation for Brothers could have made a major impact in the game against a Hervey Bay outfit which is seething Carl was cleared to play.
Adding to the intensity the Seagulls will bring to the game, Salter Oval is expected to be packed for the 3.30pm kick off and the large crowd will intensify the pressure felt by the players.
Templeman said he hoped his players enjoy the experience in what will be their toughest game in 2015.
"We had a home game at the start of the year when we had a big crowd and the boys relished it," he said.
"The pressure wasn't on us this week in the final - all the pressure was on Hervey Bay."