A disturbing chasm between the NRL match review committee (MRC) and judiciary needs to be sorted out, says former MRC boss Greg McCullum.
Of the seven players who have taken their cases to the judiciary this year, six have been found not guilty or have successfully sought downgrades, suggesting a disconnect between those laying the charges and those hearing cases when charges are contested.
On Wednesday, the NRL finally prosecuted its first successful case of the 2016 season when Newcastle’s Sione Mata’utia failed in his bid to be cleared of a dangerous throw charge.
However on the same night, South Sydney’s Paul Carter had a cannonball tackle charge downgraded and Canberra’s Joseph Leilua was found not guilty of contrary conduct.
McCullum, who headed up the MRC for 10 years before standing down in 2013, said he would have been concerned with such a low strike rate in judiciary hearing prosecutions under his watch.
He believed it could lead to even more players contesting their charges.
“Over 10 years there, my stats were better than 50 per cent – we won more than we lost,” he said.
“That’s why they (MRC) might find it frustrating the way they are.
“We charged players at a level on a basis that I expected to win.
“If I didn’t think we could win or could see a flaw, then we didn’t charge … I’d be uncomfortable if facing those stats because what happens is they believe they can get into (the judiciary) and beat it.”
The judiciary process has come under fire on several fronts this week, with many critical that Manly powerhouse Martin Taupau got just a one-week ban for his swinging arm which flattened Cronulla’s Jack Bird.
McCullum disagreed with Taupau’s careless high tackle charge, believing it should have been deemed reckless, a charge which attracts a higher penalty, and he warned it sets a precedent.
“If something is downgraded, for that particular charge that then becomes the precedent that is used when comparing offences,” McCullum said.
“That’s why it’s an important role for the MRC to keep challenging because the verdict is allocated to a charge.
“Over a period of time it’s natural for a grading to get pressed down because of the continual challenging and it’s a battle to keep it high.”
A GROWING CHASM
NRL judiciary results this year
* Paul Carter (dangerous contact) – downgraded
* Sione Mata’utia (dangerous throw) – guilty
* Joseph Leilua (contrary conduct) – not guilty
* Ben Matulino (shoulder charge) – not guilty
* Matt Scott (dangerous contact) – not guilty
* David Klemmer (contrary conduct) not guilty
* David Klemner (dangerous contact) – downgraded