STAR recruit Jeff Lima says he is “extremely disappointed” he won’t have the chance to help Wigan try and claim World Club Challenge honours this month.
The Warriors yesterday decided not to appeal the two-match ban handed to Lima for two separate ‘chicken-wing’ tackles during his debut against St Helens last Saturday.
That suspension forces him to miss the trip to Bradford this Sunday and, more importantly, the showdown with NRL champions St George-Illawarra the following week.
Coach Michael Maguire told the Evening Post: “It’s unfortunate that Jeff will miss the World Club, he is extremely disappointed and so are we.
“We decided not to appeal the punishment. We’re happy we got the opportunity to go through it, what he did was outside the playing rules and we got a fair hearing from the judiciary.
“We’ll accept the two-match ban and move on.
“One thing this squad of players has proved time and again is an ability for someone to seize their chance when it comes along, and that’s the case with this.”
Fit-again Stuart Fielden is likely to be a straight like-for-like swap for Lima. Maguire’s other prop options are Andy Coley, Paul Prescott and Lee Mossop – Eamon O’Carroll is still sidelined by injury.
Maguire says the two incidents that led to Lima’s ban were uncharacteristic. and is confident it won’t be a problem in future.
He said: “I’ve known Jeff a very long time and he’s never had a problem with his tackle technique.
“It was just something that happened, he got two tackles wrong but I don’t think there’ll be a problem.”
Wigan were represented by Sean Joyce, of Stephenson’s Solicitors.
“He put forward a very good case for us,” said Maguire.
Lima got the minimum punishment for two ‘chicken wing’ offences – he could have been banned for up to six matches.
Lima, who was also fined £300, is the third front-line Warriors star to be ruled out of the WCC.
His former Melbourne team-mate Brett Finch is recovering from neck surgery and Man of Steel Pat Richards is on the comeback from an Achilles injury.
St George-Illawarra yesterday named a 20-man squad for the WCC that includes 14 players from their 2010 NRL-winning team.
Dragons coach Wayne Bennett – in charge of Brisbane when Wigan last won the WCC – said: “All the players have been extremely committed throughout the pre-season and it was a difficult decision to determine the final make up of the travelling squad.
“Wigan are a quality team and will be a huge challenge, particularly on home soil, but one that we are all looking forward to.”
The Dragons will face Canterbury Bulldogs in a friendly tomorrow, fly out on Saturday and will train in London for five days before heading north.
Dragons squad: Darius Boyd, Matt Cooper, Ben Creagh, Nick Emmett, Nathan Fien, Mark Gasnier, Ben Hornby (capt), Bronx Goodwin, Jon Green, Michael Greenfield, Dan Hunt, Trent Merrin, Brett Morris, Jason Nightingale, Matt Prior, Beau Scott, Jamie Soward, Kyle Stanley, Michael Weyman, Dean Young.