Thursday, June 23, 2011

Audio


North Queensland officials are privately fuming that Johnathan Thurston's NRL judiciary hearing went ahead despite audio of referee Matt Cecchin admitting their collision was accidental.
The Cowboys, who were tipped off to Cecchin's comments to video referee Chris Ward by a supporter using Sports Ears, are unimpressed they were not made public before the expensive trip to Sydney for the hearing.
Thurston admitted on Thursday he knew there was audio of Cecchin admitting he was in the wrong place before he fronted Wednesday night's judiciary on a contrary conduct charge and was exonerated.
When told Fox Sports had aired audio of Cecchin telling Ward "it was accidental mate" immediately after he was cleared, Thurston replied: "I heard a bit about it.
"Obviously Matt had given a (written) report which was part of the case."
Thurston, who is now free to play against Penrith on Sunday and in the State of Origin decider on July 6, adopted a political stance on calls for the rule to be changed.
"The rules are the rules and players need to stick by them," he said.
"It was just a freak accident. I didn't see him until we collided and he didn't see me at all because I crashed into his back.
"There's twice as many chances of it happening with two referees on the field.
"It's not for me to say whether the rule should be changed or not."
Test and Queensland skipper Darren Lockyer, however, called for a review.
"I think maybe it needs to be looked at," he told reporters in Perth.
"You know there are two referees out there, there are going to be times when you're going to come in contact with them.
"Most of the time it's accidental, so for a player to be charged for a contrary conduct charge by accidentally bumping into the referee I think is a bit steep."
Referees boss Stuart Raper was not prepared to make the feelings of the NRL's whistle-blowers public.
"It's been dealt with and we've moved on," he told AAP.
"It's been nothing to do with us really.
"There's nothing really much more we can say or that I want to say.
"What I will say is Matt Cecchin is refereeing tomorrow night and he's looking forward to it."
Sydney star Kieren Jack, who was fined $900 in 2010 for negligent contact and another $1800 earlier this season, said Thurston would have copped a stiffer penalty in the AFL.
"I don't think he deserved to be rubbed out for what he did," said Jack, the son of former rugby league Test fullback Garry Jack.
"But if you did that in AFL, I reckon he'd cop a fair fine."
Thurston admitted he'd started to worry on Wednesday night as the verdict dragged on.
"I was starting to think it was not going to go my way," he said on his return to Townsville.
"When I heard the words 'not guilty' I was very relieved and happy."
While the Cowboys were ecstatic Thurston got off, they were privately dirty that a plea by young forward Tariq Sims to downgrade a "crusher tackle" was thrown out.
Sims cut a downcast figure after his brief judiciary trial, clearly upset with the stigma he could now be branded a grapple tackler.

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