Wigan Warriors have been left with a sour taste in their mouth after the RFL effectively doubled Gareth Hock's suspension from two to four games.
The Great Britain forward was initially handed a two-game ban after a red card against Leeds in the final game of their 2007 season.
That punishment was carried over into 2008 with both Wigan and the RFL understanding that one of those two games may be a pre-season friendly, while the other one has to be a Super League match.
This means that Wigan will be unable to select Hock in any of their three trial games, and the 24-year-old is also ruled out of Warriors opening Super League fixture with Harlequins on February 9th.
Coach Brian Noble told the Wigan Observer: "We have quizzed it but we got two different answers last week.
"We spent last week exchanging bye-laws with the RFL - they threw one at us and we threw one at them back.
"Unfortunately they're saying he can't play in any of the friendlies.
"In essence, he's banned for four games rather than two."
Hock is fit and raring to play, but will now be unavailable until the Warriors host Castleford on February 15th.
A spokesman for the RFL insisted that a player can not feature in any game until his suspension is served.
He added that those rules have been in force for some time.
He said: "It's correct that one of the two games may be a friendly but a player can not play again until the suspension is served."