James Maloney has been found not guilty of dangerous contact at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night.
The judiciary panel of Royce Ayliffe, Bob Lindner and Sean Garlick took 10 minutes to reach a decision on the grade two charge stemming from a tackle on Gold Coast centre Konrad Hurrell.
NSW playmaker Maloney is now free to play in the Sharks’ crucial round 22 clash against Canberra on Saturday.
“It caught me by surprise being charged but that is why we have this process in place and we got the decision we are after,” Maloney said soon after the verdict was read out at RL Central.
“Hopefully we can make up for last week, we have a short turnaround so it is just about recovering well and focusing on the footy.”
In a case that lasted over an hour, Maloney gave evidence in regard to the 88th minute tackle in the Cbus Super Stadium draw that ended the Sharks 15-match winning streak.
Maloney said he had followed NRL guidelines in the tackle.
“I tried to keep the leg in its range of movement as we are told to do,” he said.
“I applied minimal pressure to the back of the knee and released him safely.
“I released him as soon as there was the danger of an injury.”
Maloney also reasserted claims his former Warriors teammate told him post-game he was feigning injury in the tackle.
“He told me he was trying to milk a penalty,” Maloney said.
That brought a rebuke from judiciary prosecutor Peter McGrath who pointed out Hurrell winced in the tackle as he fell to the ground.
“We may be seeing some extremely good acting or we may be seeing an honest reaction,” he said.
Maloney grappled with Hurrell’s left leg for some length of time in the tackle before the Titan crashed to the ground. Play was stopped for a minute after the tackle as Hurrell was treated for injury but no penalty was awarded.
“There was a high degree of carelessness,” McGrath said.
“It was dangerous in the way he effected the tackle, his shoulder drove behind the knee and he lifted and twisted the leg.
“There was an unacceptable risk of injury.
“What caused player Hurrell to topple was a lifting of the knee. There was obvious pain on his face.”
Defence counsel for Maloney Nick Ghabar successfully argued there was nothing out of the ordinary in the tackle.
“Player Maloney was not careless but careful,” he said.
“He took care to ensure the knee did not go beyond its normal range of motion.
“What he did was permissible. There was an effort to get player Hurrell safely to the ground.”