Harry Grant Cleared of Dangerous Contact Charge by NRL Judiciary

Melbourne Storm captain Harry Grant has been found not guilty of a grade one dangerous contact charge by the NRL judiciary, following an incident where he made contact with Cronulla's Daniel Atkinson's legs during a game, sparking debate about illegal pressure on kickers' legs and player safety in the NRL. This description focuses on the primary topic of Harry Grant's judiciary hearing, the main entities involved (Grant, NRL, and Cronulla's Daniel Atkinson), the context of the NRL game, and the significant action of the not guilty verdict. It also highlights the broader implications of the incident on player safety and the NRL's approach to officiating such incidents.

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Nitish Verma
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Harry Grant Cleared of Dangerous Contact Charge by NRL Judiciary

Harry Grant Cleared of Dangerous Contact Charge by NRL Judiciary

Melbourne Storm captain Harry Grant has been found not guilty of a grade one dangerous contact charge by the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night. The 26-year-old hooker was cited by the match review committee for making contact with Cronulla's Daniel Atkinson's legs as he kicked the ball during the Storm's 25-18 loss on Saturday night at AAMI Park.

Grant was initially sin-binned for the incident and faced a $1500 fine, which has now been dropped after he successfully challenged the charge at the judiciary. The hearing lasted approximately one hour, with Grant attending via video link accompanied by Storm football boss Frank Ponissi. The judiciary panel, consisting of Tony Puletua and Sean Hampstead, took around 10 minutes to deliver the not guilty verdict.

Judiciary chair Geoff Bellew stated, "The panel were satisfied that the contact was dangerous, in the sense that it carried with it an unacceptable risk of injury. However, the panel were not satisfied that the player had acted carelessly... the panel took into account footage of the incident which established to its satisfaction that momentarily after the ball was kicked, the player slowed down appreciably and changed his line of running."

Grant's counsel Nick Ghabar argued that "not even a ballerina" would have been capable of pulling out of applying pressure on the kicker, as Grant was entitled to. Ghabar accused Atkinson of "gamesmanship to grab his leg to alert the referee's attention to get a penalty." He described the contact as "not forceful" and "glancing".

The incident has sparked debate about illegal pressure on kickers' legs, which has been a hot topic in the NRL this season. Several players, including Aidan Sezer, Josh Aloiai, and Freddy Lussick, have been charged with similar offenses in recent weeks. However, NRL head of football Graham Annesley denied that referees have been directed to crack down on the move.

The safety of kickers has been under scrutiny after Rabbitohs halfback Lachlan Ilias suffered a broken leg from a similar incident in NSW Cup earlier this year. Roosters lock Victor Radley weighed in on the issue, stating, "Just don't go hit the kicking leg. It's pretty black and white, I think."

The Storm expressed disbelief that Grant was even charged for the incident. Grant himself told media on Monday, "There was no intention to put the kicker in any position and I don't feel like he was in a dangerous position." He explained to the judiciary that he had to change his angle to prevent a potential 40/20 kick late in the first half and tried to veer away from Atkinson to avoid dangerous contact.

The not guilty verdict means Grant is free to play in the Storm's crucial clash against the Panthers on Saturday night. The incident has reignited the debate around how much contact kickers should be protected from and what constitutes dangerous or careless contact. While player safety remains paramount, finding the right balance and consistency in officiating such incidents continues to be a challenge for the NRL.

Key Takeaways

  • Melbourne Storm captain Harry Grant found not guilty of dangerous contact charge.
  • Grant was cited for making contact with Cronulla's Daniel Atkinson's legs during a kick.
  • Judiciary panel ruled Grant didn't act carelessly, and contact was "glancing" and "not forceful".
  • Incident sparks debate about illegal pressure on kickers' legs and player safety in NRL.
  • Grant is free to play in Storm's crucial clash against the Panthers on Saturday night.