NRL crackdown on ref contact to be tested

NRL crackdown on ref contact to be tested

The NRL faces a stern examination of its troubled crackdown on players making contact with referees, when David Klemmer goes before the judiciary.

Confusion reigns supreme over the NRL’s efforts to protect whistleblowers after Mitchell Moses, Trent Merrin and Jamie Soward weren’t sanctioned for making contact with referees in round two, but Canterbury forward David Klemmer and Brisbane centre James Roberts were.

Klemmer is one of four players to front the judiciary on Wednesday night at Rugby League Central at Moore Park. The others are Warrior Ben Matulino, North Queensland prop Matt Scott and Canberra’s Joseph Leilua.

Canberra three-quarter Leilua will pose a test case for the NRL’s crackdown on punching after he signalled his intention to challenge a contrary conduct charge for striking Sydney Roosters prop Dylan Napa.

However, after a weekend when the spotlight was firmly on players making contact with referees, all eyes will be on whether Klemmer can beat his grade-one contrary charge before the three-man judiciary panel.

Due to carry-over points and loading from last year’s infamous Good Friday match where he was sin-binned for dissent, Klemmer is facing two weeks for the same grade-one charge Roberts copped.

Roberts has escaped suspension for coming into contact with referee Matt Noyen, after Brisbane confirmed he would accept the 93 points for an early guilty plea.

On Tuesday, Klemmer found an ally in his NSW captain Paul Gallen.

“I think Klemmer’s one is an unlucky one,” Gallen told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.

“If you have a look at it, there’s a bit of commotion that happened and Jamie Soward walked straight at him.

“And he’s seen another person in his peripheral vision walk at him as well and I don’t think he knew it was the referee.

“You saw his hand was actually raised before the referee got really close to him and that was when he touched him.”

Moses avoided charge for touching referee Chris James in the Wests Tigers’ win over Manly on Monday night at Leichhardt Oval.

Leilua will already miss two matches after pleading guilty to a dangerous throw on Shaun Kenny-Dowall, however he will be forced to sit out an extra week if he fails to beat the contrary conduct charge.

Parramatta’s Manu Ma’u will also miss a match after pleading guilty to a dangerous contact charge on North Queensland’s Kyle Feldt.

Regardless of whether Scott – who is aiming to retain his clean judiciary record – wins or loses, he will avoid suspension for dangerous contact on Parramatta’s Kenny Edwards.

Melbourne’s Marika Koroibete (dangerous throw), Napa (high tackle) and the Warriors’ Jacob Lillyman (high tackle) have also avoided suspension by taking early guilty pleas.

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