Anthony Minichiello ... off the hook. Photo: Getty Images
THE ARL Commission has moved to ensure players who are implicated in incidents similar to the one involving Anthony Minichiello last weekend will be charged in future with dangerous contact, rather than striking.
The general reaction to the judiciary's decision to find Minichiello not guilty of a grade-three striking charge at a hearing on Wednesday night has been one of amazement.
The three-man panel could have only found Minichiello guilty if they believed he had either intentionally or recklessly struck Canberra fullback Josh Dugan in last Saturday's game at Canberra Stadium, but dangerous contact brings the careless option into consideration as well.
The ARLC's director of football operations, Nathan McGuirk, said last night: ''After reviewing the judiciary decision, the way we charge similar incidents in the future will change.
''The match review committee charged this incident in accordance with how these matters have been normally charged for a long time. The player was obviously able to raise an argument he wasn't intentional or reckless, and under the code careless can't constitute a striking charge, and the panel found him not guilty.
''We have asked the match review committee to in future use the dangerous contact charge where evidence is likely to suggest there is any doubt about the intent of the action. We learn from these things, and we want to make it clear that any contact with the head of an opponent is something we're determined to act upon.''
The fact Minichiello was able to avoid a suspension despite having made contact with his forearm to Dugan's head, injuring the player, is widely regarded as a bad look for the game.
Minichiello had missed with an attempted tackle on Dugan, who ran through it, and he then leapt spectacularly into a second attempt in which he lost control.
There was criticism of the match review committee in league circles yesterday for not hitting Minichiello with a charge that could stick. However, that was based on misinformation in some of the reporting on the hearing, which suggested the panel had to find Minichiello guilty of intentionally striking Dugan. It could have been intentional or reckless.
The Herald understands the match review committee firmly believes a striking charge was appropriate based on the fact the Roosters fullback could have been judged to have recklessly made contact.
Clearly, the judiciary panel could not be convinced.