The NRL’s crackdown on players making contact with referees is in disarray after David Klemmer was found not guilty of a contrary conduct charge at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night.
Canterbury forward Klemmer was found not guilty of making illegal contact with referee Ben Cummins in the round two win over Penrith on Thursday.
Grand final whistleblower Cummins seemingly broke ranks with the NRL to give evidence favourable to Klemmer.
“I didn’t notice him making contact with me at the time,” Cummins said.
The grand final whistleblower said he didn’t realise Klemmer had touched him until he was alerted to the charge laid by the match review committee at his review session the following day.
The NSW enforcer was one of two players charged over round two offences. Brisbane’s James Roberts was the other. He took the early guilty plea on a grade one contrary conduct charge and escaped suspension.
However Mitchell Moses, Trent Merrin and Jamie Soward all made contact with referees in round two but were not charged by the match review committee.
Klemmer is free to play in the Dogs round three fixture against Parramatta at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
He expressed his relief post verdict and said: “I have a great respect for the officials”.
Klemmer’s defence counsel Nick Ghabar successfully argued the contact was “momentary, light, innocuous and minimal”.
“It was minor contact at best,” he said.
“It would be almost ludicrous to suggest it wasn’t in the spirit of the game.
“It was an act of frivolity or foolishness. It wasn’t an aggressive or threatening act … that is a fact.
“Klemmer wanted to quell the situation. He was the peacemaker.”