Super League was rocked yesterday by the banning of former international star Ivor Nutherwon for the rest of the season, after his ear count was over the limit.
It comes after a sixth-month investigation, led by UK Ear-Count (UKEC), the body which carries out ear testing in all major sports in the country. Loose forward Nutherwon failed an ears test following a Super League game last June.
It is thought the ear in question was designed to help Nutherwon hear the coach's instructions better - especially when the pitch was muddy. The loose forward also claimed he needed an extra ear in case he lost one in the scrums. But UKEC argued that it gave him an unfair advantage because he could also hear the play calls of the opposition scrum-half.
Nutherwon became a hit with fans after a series of strong back-wind performances. But he had already been warned twice about wearing three gum-shields, and an extra eye in the back of his head. Last season he missed several matches, allegedly because of 'ear-ache'.
In addition to the ban, UKEC have issued an amputation order on Nutherwon's extra ear. "When they've decided which one has to go," he said, "I'll donate it to the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID), once I've cleaned all the mud out of it."