LEEDS Rhinos packman James Donaldson has picked up a two-match penalty notice for a late hit on a Wakefield player during the pre-season on Boxing Day.

The Match Review Panel deemed the 40th minute challenge a Grade C dangerous contact.

The match review panel noted: “A defending player makes contact with an opponent after the ball has been released by an opponent in a vulnerable position which causes flexion to the head, neck or spinal column on an attacking player, which poses an unacceptable risk of injury to that player.”

Donaldson will be able to use two of Leeds' other pre-season friendlies to wipe out the ban, making him available for their round-one game against Warrington on February 12.

Sione Mata'utia, who picked up a one-match ban in the Grand Final, will not be able to use the Saints friendly to clear his ban - so he will miss Round One of Super League.

We are likely to see some stiffer penalties this year as the RFL seek to give players greater protection as part of their three-pronged approach to tackling head injuries.

Sentencing guidelines for on-field foul play in the 2022 season have been amended, with a further stiffening of sentences for striking, headbutting, kicking and late hits – all with the intention of providing further disincentive to dangerous play, and further protection to all players.

This will work alongside scientific research and an extension to the recovery period for players failing concussion assessments.