Judiciary challenges over NRL grapples - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Judiciary challenges over NRL grapples

By Todd Balym 21/08/2007 07:24:52 PM Comments (0)

The grapple tackle crackdown is set to face a triple challenge at the NRL Judiciary on Wednesday night as clubs refuse to admit to the illegal tactic.

The NRL announced a grapple crackdown last week, introducing new rules against a "crusher" style offence, and three players were hit with charges by the match review committee.

All are expected to make a stand and fight the charge in front of a panel of former players.

Wests Tigers forward Liam Fulton and St George Illawarra captain Jason Ryles have both pleaded not guilty to grade one contrary conduct charges for grapple tackles and will fight to clear their names.

While South Sydney's Dean Widders is expected to confirm his intent to fight a grade two charge for an alleged grapple on Manly's Jamie Lyon.

Widders can accept a two-game ban with an early plea, and hope Souths make the finals to play again in 2007, but if he is found guilty at the judiciary he will be ousted for three matches.

The loss of Widders would severely dent the Rabbitohs momentum as he has been inspirational in helping the club climb into finals contention with two weeks remaining.

"We think we will be challenging but are waiting for final word from our barrister," said Souths chief executive Shane Richardson.

"We don't want to lose him and I'm hopeful we don't.

"I just think there's a grey area in the charges.

"I don't want to pre-empt our case but obviously we were a bit stunned by it and we are just trying to make sure exactly how it relates to the edict that was put out by the NRL and how best we can defend the charges."

Fulton is another alleged grappler prepared to roll the dice at the judiciary.

He would have escaped a ban by taking the early plea but now risks a one-match suspension by fronting the panel.

Tigers chief executive Steve Noyce said the club had additional footage from Fox Sports which they believe clears Fulton of a grapple on Cronulla's Luke Douglas.

"As we put all the pieces together we (Tigers football department) looked at each other and said we think the best way to move forward is to plead not guilty," said Noyce.

"We have a lot of experienced football people in this organisation ... we've all spent a lot of time looking at it and played the devil's advocate of saying lets just take the plea and play on but we think if you're not guilty then we have an obligation to protect the player.

"There's certainly a bit of a gamble in there ... but with just leaving the 93 (carryover points) if something else happens you cop one and possibly two games anyway."

Ryles is facing a two-game ban if found guilty, which would end his NRL season.

He has a higher penalty than Fulton because of loading from a previous non-similar indiscretion and carryover points.

Parramatta's Timana Tahu, Melbourne's Michael Crocker, the Bulldogs' Corey Hughes, Cronulla's Reece Williams and Brisbane pair Brad Thorn (all careless high tackles) and Sam Thaiday (dangerous throw) all entered early guilty pleas to escape suspensions and are free to play this weekend.

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