Rugby League

Canterbury Bulldogs prop David Klemmer cleared by NRL judiciary, free to face Parramatta Eels on Friday night

With referee Ben Cummins providing supporting evidence, Canterbury prop David Klemmer was cleared by the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night. 

The NRL judiciary panel of Paul Whatuira, Bob Lindner and Don McKinnon took nine minutes to clear Klemmer to play in Friday's game against Parramatta. Klemmer said he was "relieved" after the near one-hour hearing. 

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"[I am] very happy with the result," Klemmer said. "Very relieved. I have a lot of respect for the officials and I'm very happy with the result." 

The hearing was not without its dramas after judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew excused the panel members and the rest of the room to clarify Klemmer's lawyer Nick Ghabar's line of questioning surrounding the relevance of the force of Klemmer's touch for about 10 minutes. 

Flashpoint: David Klemmer makes contact with referee Ben Cummins.
Flashpoint: David Klemmer makes contact with referee Ben Cummins. Photo: Channel Nine

Klemmer, flanked by coach Des Hasler and chief executive Raelene Castle, was shaking his head when the incident was replayed.

In an unusual twist, referee Cummins provided evidence where he said he was unaware that Klemmer had touched him during the game.

After an unhappy relationship with the match officials – which saw Klemmer suspended last year for his Good Friday spray on Gerard Sutton – it was the man in the middle who helped keep Klemmer on the park. 

Cummins, one of the top officials in the game, read a prepared statement before being asked questions by Klemmer's lawyer.

It was not until another referee pointed the incident out to Cummins upon reviewing the game that he saw the touch.

"Footage shows me rolling my eyes," Cummins said. "This was nothing to do with him making contact with me. 

"I believe it was to do with his injured teammate and the situation at hand. I did not notice him making contact with me at the time."

NRL counsel Peter McGrath said the contact was "initiated" by Klemmer although it was not aggressive.

"You don't touch the referee," McGrath said.  "That is it. Accidental contact happens in a game. The contact you see was avoidable. It should not have happened."

It could have been Klemmer's second ban in as many games having missed the start of the NRL season after being suspended for a torpedo like tackle on Melbourne's Kenny Bromwich.  

Ghabar said Klemmer had touched Cummins with "the tips of his fingers" and the Bulldogs prop had been acting as a "peacemaker" after Jamie Soward had thrown the ball at teammate Tim Browne. 

"The referee advances towards Klemmer," Ghabar said. "Klemmer does not really advance towards the referee."

Klemmer had said to Cummins "we have a player down sir," and pointing towards an injured Josh Reynolds before coming into contact with the referee. 

Meanwhile, North Queensland co-captain Matt Scott was found not guilty for a crusher tackle on Parramatta's Kenny Edwards.

Scott, whose hearing lasted 45 minutes, beat the dangerous contact head/neck charge. He would have faced the Roosters in Townsville on Thursday night regardless of the result of the grade one charge. 

New Zealand Warriors forward Ben Matulino was found not guilty of a shoulder charge. He will be free to face Melbourne at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.

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