Lyon and Johnson cleared to play Origin - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lyon and Johnson cleared to play Origin

By Todd Balym 16/05/2007 09:00:22 PM Comments (0)

Queensland had an outright victory at the NRL Judiciary while NSW won by a technicality as both Dallas Johnson and Jamie Lyon were cleared to play in Wednesday's State of Origin clash in Brisbane.

Johnson successfully argued a downgrading to his grade two careless high tackle charge on Bulldog Reni Maitua last Monday while Lyon was found not guilty of a dangerous throw because the prosecution worded the charge incorrectly and a key witness could not be cross examined.

Lyon was accused of a grade one lifting tackle on Parramatta's Eric Grothe but the judiciary panel of Royce Ayliffe, Scott Tronc and Mal Cochrane handed out a not guilty verdict after chairman Greg Wood instructed them that "in this case there appears to be no evidence of lifting and evidence to sustain the charge."

There had been confusion as to the wording of the charge because a dangerous throw can be defined in four ways and in this case the prosecution failed to define it as a fulcrum or downward force which Lyon would most likely have been guilty of.

Grothe, Lyon's former teammate from his time at Parramatta, provided a statement supporting the NSW centre's case, but conveniently had his mobile telephone switched off when prosecutor Peter Kite QC wanted to question the Eel's version of events.

Lyon, who was represented by former NRL Judiciary chairmen Geoff Bellew, was ecstatic to be exonerated and was focussed on making a barnstorming return to Origin next week - his first game for NSW since he walked out on the NRL and Parramatta in 2004.

"Very happy. I was a bit nervous there for a couple of days," said Lyon.

"Unfortunately we could not get hold of him (Grothe) but he made a statement which was very good of him and I thank him for it.

"It's obviously going to be a big buzz and I can't wait to get out there. I haven't played for NSW for a while and hopefully I can have a big game as well.

"I was confident without being over confident. In the bottom of your gut you feel a bit worried. I'm very relieved and stoked actually."

Earlier, Queensland lock Johnson successfully had a careless high tackle charge downgraded from grade two to grade one.

Johnson escaped suspension after his representatives - Melbourne assistant coach Dean Lance and Queensland coach Mal Meninga - convinced the panel the player was not looking at Maitua when contact was made with his head and it wasn't an intentional attempt to injure the Bulldog.

Lance argued Johnson's tackle was less severe than previous grade two careless high tackle charges handed out to Bulldog Willie Mason and Wests Tiger Jamaal Lolesi last season because in this instance the player tackled still had the ball.

Ironically, Lolesi's tackle was on Johnson.

Kite said Johnson could not get a reprieve because his contact was directly with the head and that his upcoming representative honour is no reason for leniency.

However, the panel decided to downgrade the charge and free Johnson to play in next week's Origin clash.

Johnson did not speak to the panel or the media, but Meninga said it was a huge relief and a bonus for the Maroons.

"Very pleased obviously. I think Dallas deserved that. We had a fair hearing obviously and we can get on with preparations now with Dallas Johnson in the side so we are extremely pleased," said Meninga.

"He is a very integral part of our footy side and all the boys are waiting with baited breathe up at Toowoomba at the moment so hopefully they can get the message shortly and there'll be a fair few cheers up in Toowoomba tonight that's for sure."

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