Cowboys forward escapes suspension; faces hefty fine
DIVISIVE Cowboys lock Josh McGuire has escaped suspension, but will face a hefty fine for his eye gouge on Maroons teammate Cam Munster.
In what Munster described after the game as just a friendly incident, McGuire appeared to claw at the eyes of the Storm five-eighth midway through the opening half of the clash at 1300SMILES Stadium.
It was one of the first attacking raids for the visitors after an uncharacteristic start for the Storm side had them cough the ball up four times in the opening ten minutes of the 18-12 victory.
While Munster decided against lodging a formal complaint on the field with referee Grant Atkins, the match review committee did not miss the incident hitting McGuire with a grade one contrary conduct charge.
The charge will not incur any time on the sidelines, instead the forward will be hit with a hefty fine of $3,350 if he lodges an early guilty plea with the NRL judiciary.
It is the third time in as many seasons that the Cowboys recruit has been cited for what fans on social media have described as a "grub act".
While playing for the Broncos last season, McGuire missed the highly anticipated Queensland derby against his new club after he was suspended for pulling the hair of Bulldogs lock Adam Elliott.
The year before he also came under heavy fire after he stomped on the ankle of a prone Tim Mannah.
Cowboys coach Paul Green defended his lock after the game and explained the conduct was not in his nature.
"I can only go on what he has done since he has been here," Green said.
"I haven't seen (the incident), but it's not in his nature. He is a competitor, he is tough but that is not what he is about."
Emerging from the dressing sheds after the game Munster admitted there was no hard feelings over what had happened on the field.
The frontrunner for the Maroons five-eighth role this season said he and McGuire had been messaging each other joking around all week in the lead up to the clash.
After the incident on the field, Munster had motioned to his eyes in an attempt to explain to the referees what had occurred. But when Atkins queried if he wanted to make a formal complaint, his captain Cam Smith stepped in with some sage advice.
"I didn't actually see the incident but (Cam) was quite upset by what happened in the tackle, and he was quite strong with what he was saying to the referee," Smith said.
"I am not too sure if Cameron actually knew the protocol there with something as serious as an eye gouge or biting.
"I just mentioned to him that if that happened there would be repercussions for the next few days or week after. I just said to him "mate have a think about it, if not, let's get on with the game"."
The Rockhampton product appeared to be in the crosshairs for the Cowboys as two other incidents he was on the receiving end of caught the ire of the match review committee.
Fellow Cowboys recruits Nene Macdonald and Kurt Baptiste, who played his first game in Cowboys colours against the Storm, were also cited for grade one dangerous contact charges.
Macdonald's incident came in the 26th minute when he landed a forearm blow to the head of Munster in a tackle, while Baptsiste was cited for taking out the legs of the five-eighth after he launched a towering bomb in the dying stages of the match.
Both Cowboys players will get off without suspension if they make an early guilty plea to the judiciary.
Macdonald is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines regardless after he broke and dislocated his ankle in a gruesome collision with big forward John Asiata.