NRL 2024; Parramatta’s Maika Sivo on notice after pre-season high hit

Two words summed up why the Eels missed out on the finals last year – injuries and suspensions – which is why superstar five-eighth Dylan Brown says Maika Sivo’s three-game ban is “unacceptable” and something he’s desperately trying to work on.

The Fijian winger took the early guilty plea for a grade 2 careless high tackle on Gold Coast’s AJ Brimson during the trials that left him “pretty sore that night with a sore neck and a bit of a headache”.

It means the Eels will be without their try-scoring machine until they face the Wests Tigers on Easter Monday, with Sivo also copping a four-match suspension for a high shot against the Titans last year.

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Sivo scored 20 tries in 20 games last season but was one of several high-profile stars who missed large chunks as the Eels fell out on the top eight a year after they reached the grand final.

“It’s not acceptable in the game and he knows that,” Brown said, with the NRL sending a memo to all clubs in 2023 warning them that outside backs would earn lengthy bans if they jammed in and caught attackers in the head.

“There are times, moments in the game, where he just gets his technique wrong.

Maika Sivo hits AJ Brimson. Picture: Fox LeagueSource: Supplied

“You look at it, there are head-highs all over the place and his ones are obviously a bit worse.

“It’s something he’s practised on a lot, and unluckily, he caught him high again.

“It (the ban) is fair. That’s what’s going to happen, it’s too dangerous, especially with all the head knocks going around.

“We’re glad the rule is there and we’re disappointed, but at the same time, he knows he’s got to continue to work on it and take it out of his game.”

Parramatta’s senior players know they need their best players on the park if they are to return to the finals this year, with skipper Clint Gutherson assuring fans that the experienced winger is working hard to fix his technique.

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“He’s been working really hard on it, it’s a hard thing to do when you’re on the wing and you’re trying to shut down the play,” he said.

“You’re just rushing as hard as you can to get there and sometimes you get in an awkward position and because he’s so big, it’s hard to get down.

“Sometimes it’s disappointing, but it’s not like he’s not working on it.

“He’s working really hard on his tackle and a lot of the pre-season he worked really hard on hitting the right spot.

“Look, it’s just one of those things, it’s going to happen in rugby league sometimes and I think he only got that much because of his record.”

Sivo is on notice from his teammates. Picture: Matt Blyth/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Gutherson says his body has never felt better after the freakishly fit fullback had surgery to repair a knee injury that plagued him late last year.

“I had surgery a couple of days after the (Penrith) game and just got on the front foot and only got back into full training a couple of weeks ago,” he said.

“I had a bit of a modified pre-season for me which has been good, hopefully it’ll add a couple of years to my career.

“But look, it’s been fine. No dramas, no hiccups whatsoever, just have to let it heal.

“No matter what happened in that game, that last game was always going to get it fixed up and cleaned out.

“But look, it’s just that wear and tear of footy that gets a hold of you.”

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