South Sydney star Issac Luke has been found not guilty of a shoulder charge on Johnathan Thurston at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night.
Luke was hit with the grade one shoulder in the Rabbitohs’ big win over North Queensland in Townsville last week.
But the panel of Don McKinnon, Bob Lindner and Mal Cochrane took 12 minutes to find him not guilty of the charge.
“It’s a big relief for me,” Luke told waiting media shortly after the verdict was laid down.
In giving evidence, Luke said it wasn’t his intent to put a big hit on Thurston.
“I was just coming out of the defensive line to put pressure on JT,” Luke said.
“I was trying to avoid contact. I stopped and he ran into me. I didn’t shoulder charge.”
Luke defence counsel Nick Ghabar argued there was separation between Luke’s arm and his torso, which wouldn’t constitute a shoulder charge, and contact was with his client’s forearm and torso rather than the shoulder.
“It was essentially a collision,” Ghabar said.
“(Luke) used his forearm as a bumper. “It wasn’t careless, but quite careful.
Judiciary counsel Peter McGrath said the tackle was an obvious shoulder charge.
“Player Luke made no attempt to use both arms, including his hands in the tackle on player Thurston,” McGrath said.
But that was rejected.
But Luke won’t play on Friday night against Canterbury after accepting a one-game ban for a dangerous throw, also against the Cowboys last week.
In a significant test of the NRL’s crackdown on the shoulder charge, Manly’s Jorge Taufua and Roosters star Aidan Guerra will also front the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night to challenge potential bans in regard to the controversial tackle.