Sydney Roosters player Jared Waerea-Hargreaves speaks to media following a judiciary hearing at NRL Rugby League Central. Waerea-Hargreaves will face a one match ban and miss the preliminary final after being found guilty of tripping James Roberts of the Rabbitohs in last Friday's qualifying final (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
The Sydney Roosters will have to win their way to the NRL grand final without star forward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves after he was banned for one game for tripping.
Waerea-Hargreaves on Tuesday night failed to be cleared of tripping South Sydney's James Roberts, with the three-man panel ruling he'd been reckless in his actions.
The decision will leave the Roosters without their most reliable forward headed into the preliminary final against either Melbourne or Parramatta.
The Kiwis prop has averaged 128 metres per game this year for the Roosters - second only to Sio Suia Taukeiaho - and led the team for runs.
He was easily their best middle man against the Rabbitohs last Friday, while they have won just four of their last nine games without him.
"I thought we had a really good case tonight," Waerea-Hargreaves said after the hearing.
"I"m really disappointed. But we have a lot of faith and depth in our squad.
"I am looking forward to preparing and getting our boys as well prepared as possible."
The blow is particularly crucial for the Roosters when considered they could come up against a Melbourne pack renowned for being one of the league's best in the middle.
Parramatta meanwhile have been punching above their weight in recent weeks with their pack.
In a 50-minute hearing, Waerea Hargreaves argued he'd lost his balance when he was fooled by a Roberts dummy, and that it was merely clumsy.
His lawyer James McLeod said it was "momentary and instinctive", while "innocuous, clumsy and minor in context".
But the NRL's legal counsel, Peter McGrath, convinced the three-man panel of Mal Cochrane, Sean Garlick and Bob Lindner that Waerea-Hargreaves had thrown his leg out at Roberts.
"It is my suggestion it was was reckless," McGrath said.
"It was that your foot came out and came into contact with his legs that forced you to overbalance.
"In his mind it would have been likely he would make contact with Roberts, but he went ahead and did that."
The conviction was Waerea-Hargreaves's fourth of the year, after being charged six times in 2019.
His poor record cost him the chance of receiving a fine for the incident, resulting in the one-game ban for the offence.
© AAP 2019