Punching ref earns promising player lifetime ban

A promising rugby league player will be in his 40s by the time he's allowed to play again after he king-hit a touch judge he blamed for his team's two-point loss.

Papatoetoe Panthers player Livai Makaui, 19, took issue with the official's decision which saw his team lose against the Manurewa Marlins in August and knocked him out at the end of the game.

Makaui was sentenced yesterday at Manukau District Court to four months' community detention and 300 hours' community work after earlier pleading guilty to injuring with intent to injure.

The court was told that in the second half of the game, the Panthers were heavily penalised and ended up losing by two points.

Judge Gerard Winter said that at the end of the match, the Panthers manager went on to the field and confronted the referee and touch judge.

He told Makaui: "While this was happening, you walked up behind the victim and king-hit him, knocking him unconscious."

Judge Winter said Makaui, who won the under-20s award for "most consistent" at the club's prize-giving earlier this year, had received a life-time ban from rugby league.

"When you lost your cool and struck the victim, you not only hurt him but you hurt the sport that you have so much passion for."

He said he was glad that the touch judge had not given up on the sport despite being concussed.

"He, like many others, take time out each week to ensure your rugby league games are properly controlled. He was knocked unconscious."

Judge Winter started with a term of two years in prison but took time off for Makaui's early guilty plea, remorse and his youth.

He came to a sentence of four months' community detention but added on the 300 hours' community work.

"The reason for that is when you attacked the victim, you also attacked the community," Judge Winter said.

The touch judge, Gordon Shaw, watched the court proceedings yesterday and afterwards told APNZ he had been refereeing senior league matches for the past four years.

Asked if he would continue his volunteer work, Mr Shaw said he won't be quitting.

"I won't give the satisfaction to the perpetrator ... I'm still in the game and I'll still be there next year."

Auckland Rugby League chief operating officer Pat Carthy said the organisation had a zero tolerance for violence against officials.

He said he could not recall another violent episode against an official in the last five years.

Asked about Makaui's life ban, Mr Carthy said the independent rugby league judiciary banned Makaui until 2038 but the Panthers had appealed.

Mr Carthy said the rugby league judiciary were awaiting official notification from the courts before the appeal was heard.

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