Dolphins' Kaufusi, Storm's Hughes cop NRL bans

Dolphins forward Felise Kaufusi doesn't believe his previous brushes with the NRL judiciary led to him receiving a four-game suspension that has rubbed him out of Friday's blockbuster Brisbane derby against the Broncos.

Kaufusi fronted the judiciary in Sydney on Tuesday and failed in his bid to have a grade-two charge for a late hit on Newcastle halfback Jackson Hastings decreased to a grade one.

His former Melbourne teammate Jahrome Hughes was also suspended for two games after losing a battle to have a similar grade-two charge reduced for a late shot on Gold Coast playmaker Tanah Boyd.

But while Hughes will miss games against Wests Tigers and Souths, Kaufusi is staring at a month on the sidelines starting with this weekend's maiden Brisbane derby against the Broncos.

Flanked by Dolphins assistant coach Kristian Woolf, Kaufusi was visibly emotional as he came to terms with his sanction.

The tough Tongan international will also miss games against St George Illawarra, North Queensland and South Sydney.

A successful downgrade would have resulted in Kaufusi, who has developed a reputation for playing the game on the edge, escaping with a $3000 fine and no suspension.

"Not at all," Kaufusi replied, when asked if his reputation had influenced the panel's verdict.

"It'll take some time for this to sink in, I'm pretty disappointed with the verdict.

"I thought we had good grounds to fight the downgrade, but I guess the panel didn't see it that way."

The argument put forward by Kaufusi's lawyer, Nick Ghabar, admitted that the veteran's contact with Hastings was late, but only marginally.

He contrasted Kaufusi's hit with a grade-one charge given to Sydney Roosters centre Joseph Suaalii for a tackle on Warriors fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad from round two.

Ghabar argued Suaalii was "grossly careless" and maintained Kaufusi withdrew his force upon making contact with Hastings which and indicated a duty of care for his opponent.

But that argument didn't wash with the panel of former referee Paul Simpkins and ex-Australian international Bob Lindner, who reached a unanimous verdict within half an hour.

Their judgement supported the match review committee's original grade-two charge and because Kaufusi had contested the charge his punishment was bumped up from a three-game ban to a four-match suspension.

Ghabar was also forced to defend Hughes, who appeared via video link alongside Storm football manager Frank Ponissi.

Hughes, like Kaufusi, rolled the dice on Tuesday in the hope he could be free to face the Tigers.

But Ghabar's argument - centred on claiming Hughes was bracing to avoid getting kicked in the face - held no sway with Lindner and Simpkins, who again backed up the match review committee's original sanction.

Hughes' suspension could not have come at a worst time for the Storm, as they desperately seek to bounce back from losses to Canterbury and the Gold Coast in successive weeks.