Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen has leapt to the defence of South Sydney five-eighth Luke Keary after an alleged eye-gouging incident.
Keary was put on report after his hands came into contact with Gallen’s face in a tackle in the sixth minute of Cronulla’s 28-12 NRL elimination final win on Sunday at Allianz Stadium.
The Rabbitohs’ playmaker will come under scrutiny from the match review committee but Gallen said he would be happy for the incident to stay on the field.
“He didn’t mean it; he didn’t mean it at all,” Gallen said.
“And I mean that – I’m not trying to stick up for him.
“He didn’t know where my eye was, he just grabbed me and was trying to pull me to the ground.
“There’s nothing in it for me as far as I’m concerned – what’s done is done.”
Keary declined to speak to the media after the game but Gallen said he had already patched up his relationship with the Rabbitohs’ No.6.
“I spoke to him during the game,” Gallen said.
“I knew he didn’t mean it. There was nothing in it.”
Gallen stayed on the ground and initially said “I can’t see” but played on afterwards.
A push and shove ensued after a replay of the incident was shown on the stadium big screen.
“It’s been reviewed and his hand was above the eye,” referee Matt Cecchin said as he put Keary on report.
Keary could be referred directly to the judiciary by the match review committee. Any charge deemed higher than a grade five is referred directly.