A DECISION "lacking common sense" that felt like a "kick in the guts".
Hervey Bay Seagulls president Nathan McGrath did not mince his words when asked about the Bundaberg Rugby League tribunal's decision on Past Brothers fullback Jake Carl's contrary conduct charge.
The tribunal slapped Carl with a grade one offence after he made contact with referee Mark Staib during last Saturday's 38-10 win over Wests
The minor grade would have attracted a one week suspension, but the early guilty plea means Carl is free to play Sunday's major semi final at Salter Oval.
"I'm shocked at the result," McGrath said. "I think this tribunal has got it wrong.
"Refs do a good job and all officials deserve to be protected.
"I don't think this is a good look for the game."
BRL chairman Mike Ireland attempted to deflect criticism after the tribunal's stance.
Bundaberg Cricket Association president Noel Stitt, Bundaberg Junior Rugby League president and former Police Minister Jack Dempsey and former BJRL president Paul Barritt were on the tribunal, which lasted more than two hours.
Ireland has received numerous phone calls and messages since the decision was publicised, but he said he had nothing to do with it.
"I wasn't on the judiciary," he said.
"We had three independent people on the tribunal.
"Nobody form the BRL committee was on it but I've copped that much **** about it. We deliberately put independent people on there.
"Whether I agree (with the decision) or not doesn't matter, I've copped plenty for it."
Seagulls reserve grade captain-coach Peter Green was suspended after he verbally abused a referee, and missed last week's elimination final loss to Easts
While he admitted Green was "rightly suspended", McGrath said it still felt like a "kick in the guts".
"We lost without him," he said.
"The result may have been different but we can't speculate on that. The fact he wasn't given an opportunity to defend himself on what seems like a far less serious offence.
"It defies common sense."
Seagulls players did not publicly comment on the decision, with their sole focus being to secure a spot in the BRL grand final.
"They want to go out there and beat Brothers' best lineup," McGrath said.