Canterbury Bulldogs hard-man David Klemmer is free to play tomorrow night against the Parramatta Eels.
The judiciary panel last night cleared Klemmer of a charge of contrary conduct, brought because he brushed against a referee during the Dogs’ match against Penrith last Thursday. The four-man panel agreed there was no malice in his action, which they deemed “momentary and innocuous”.
The referee involved, Ben Cummins, told the panel “I didn’t notice him making contact with me at the time”. The incident was only placed on report because an official in the bunker noticed it.
Had he been found guilty, the NSW forward would have missed the match against the Eels as well as the Round 4 Good Friday blockbuster against the Rabbitohs. A relieved Klemmer spoke to media outside NRL headquarters saying he had great respect for officials.
Broncos speedster James Roberts also faced the judiciary on a charge of contrary conduct against a referee but entered an early guilty plea, so he will not miss game time. Three other players were charged with touching referees in the opening round – Parramatta’s Corey Norman, Penrith’s Trent Merrin and Wests Tigers’ five-eighth Mitchell Moses but also avoided penalties by entering early pleas.
The Bulldogs coach Des Hasler, responding to the media controversy that greeted the way Klemmer was placed on report, has proposed that the NRL adopt the AFL system of ‘pay-and-play’ in which players are fined for minor infringements and are free to play in the next round. He accepted that it probably cannot be introduced this season but he wants it to be addressed.
Newcastle centre Joseph Leilua was the only one of the 10 players fronting the judiciary last night who received a game ban. He will miss two matches for a dangerous throw against Roosters flyer Shaun Kenny-Dowall. – Jesse Mullens
Photo of David Klemmer from the Canterbury Bulldogs’ official Twitter feed.