THE Dragons are counting the toll of a horror Magic Round, four players to spend a combined 13 weeks on the sidelines after the NRL's crackdown on foul play.
Josh McGuire, Tyrell Fuimaono, Mikaele Ravalawa and Tariq Sims have all accepted early guilty pleas for incidents during Sunday's loss to the Storm.
McGuire will miss five matches for a grade three dangerous contact charge for a hip drop tackle, while he will also pay a $2600 fine for a careless high tackle.
Fuimaono has also accepted a five-game suspension after being hit with a grade one reckless high tackle charge, with Ravalawa to miss two weeks for a grade one shoulder charge.
Finally, Sims will miss one match for a grade two dangerous contact citing for a hip drop tackle.
All four Dragons players have been hit with loading and carryover points for prior offences, adding to the length of the suspensions.
St George Illawarra general manager Ben Haran defended the team's judiciary record on Monday.
"It must be said that our players don't intentionally go out to hurt the opposition," Haran said.
"Our players' integrity should not be questioned in this respect."
To add to the carnage, Matt Dufty is out indefinitely after injuring the AC joint in his shoulder during Sunday's defeat, joining a lengthy casualty ward.
In positive news, Andrew McCullough was cleared of a facial fracture. He is, however, in doubt for Friday night's clash with the Sharks.
The charges came as NRL head of football Graham Annesley reiterated the organisation's commitment to stamping out foul play during his weekly briefing.
As he has done in previous weeks, the experienced administrator put the onus back on players to avoid contact with the head or neck if they do not want to face sanction.
Annesley also reinforced Australian Rugby League chair Peter V'landys' view that increasing the safety of the game is a must if the NRL is to continue to grow junior playing numbers.
"This is to send a message to the people who are our future players," Annesley said.
"To the kids running around in a park at seven or eight who in another 10 to 15 years will be NRL players.
"They and their parents know letting them play rugby league is going to allow them to hopefully reach their potential in the safest way possible.
"They don't have to worry about 'do we let our son or daughter play rugby league?' They know the game's administered and controlled in a way on the field and off the field that provides a safe environment in a very physical game."
While officials are concerned violence in the NRL will have an impact on parents choosing which sport their children should play, Illawarra Steelers Under 16s coach Aaron McDonald said the sport fans watch on TV each week is considerably different to that played by kids across the state.
The experienced Harold Mathews coach said foul play and high tackles are rare in children's sport.
"At the level I'm coaching, most players have a general idea of how to tackle correctly," McDonald said.
"My focus is to look at the target zones for defensive contact and trying to ensure players are hitting those target zones.
"They're doing that to lock up the attacking player and also to ensure the safety of themselves and the player they're tackling."
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