TORONTO — A Salford player has been charged with making a racial slur during the Red Devils' win over the Toronto Wolfpack in Sunday's fifth-round Ladbrokes Challenge Cup match.
Salford's Justin Carney was sent off in the 26th minute of Salford's 29-22 rugby league win over Toronto. The alleged abuse was against veteran prop Ryan Bailey.
"Justin Carney is a really good player," said Toronto coach Paul Rowley. "I'll never defend that sort of behaviour but ... it's really easy watching a game of rugby to just see 13 players against 13. But they never know what's gone on in that person's life in the buildup to a game."
"It's a reactive thing," he added. "I don't think for one minute that Justin Carney is a racist. He's got a black father so he's not racist. Ryan Bailey knows him. There's no drama there. So whilst we won't defend him, we certainly won't condemn him either. We'd rather support (him) and find out if there's a deep-rooted problem that made him react in that manner.
"But nevertheless you can't do it in this day and age — or any day and age. Justin's a grown man and he'll deal with the consequences, I'm sure."
A hearing was put over to next week at the request of Salford, with Carney ineligible to play in the meantime.
Carney faces a Grade F charge for verbal abuse based on race/colour — the most severe category of offence carrying a penalty of at least eight games or a fixed time period if found guilty.
The 28-year-old Australian back played for the Canberra Raiders and Sydney Roosters in the NRL before coming to England to play for Castleford and Salford.
The Wolfpack, rugby league's first transatlantic team, are in their first season in the third tier of English rugby league where they are unbeaten in five games against semi-pro opposition. The fully professional Toronto team is bidding to eventually win promotion to the elite Super League, where Salford currently stands fifth.
In other disciplinary news, Toronto loose forward Jack Bussey was suspended for one match and fined 75 pounds ($130) for an illegal elbow/forearm strike in the 31st minute of the Salford match.
Rowley said he was disappointed at the ban. The Wolfpack have played their first eight competitive games in England with Rowley suggesting opposition fans can sway decisions.
"It can quite often influence a referee ... We have to be squeaky clean all the time," he said. "So Jack plays close to the line, he's aggressive in his style and unfortunately they've picked up on a little bit of niggle."
"I think, to be honest, they really tried hard to find something because there's been a bit of noise about how aggressive we are and on the back of that noise, I think, they've almost had to look for something to prove that we crossed the line," he added.
Toronto hooker Bob Beswick, meanwhile, received a caution for strikes with the knee.
On the injury front, Wolfpack second-rower James Laithwaite, who suffered a neck fracture in Sunday's game, underwent more tests in hospital Wednesday.
Rowley said the best-case scenario for his forward in terms of a return to action was two months out.
Toronto's next outing is its home opener May 6 against Oxford RLFC.
Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press