South Sydney captain Sam Burgess has been cleared to play against Brisbane on Friday night by the NRL judiciary.
Burgess had been cited with a grade-one shoulder charge on Canterbury’s Greg Eastwood in the Rabbitohs’ 24-9 loss on Good Friday.
However, Burgess successfully argued on Tuesday night that attacker Eastwood had generated the impact and that any contact was made with his chest, neck and jaw — not his shoulder or upper arm.
Burgess told the judiciary he had only braced as Eastwood passed before reaching the line.
“It clearly wasn’t a shoulder charge,” Burgess said after the hearing.
“The impact was with chest and head and neck collided.”
Staring down the barrel of a two-week ban, Burgess argued he was merely bracing for contact when he was penalised for the eighth-minute hit.
In a hearing that went for just short of an hour, Burgess’ defence team also argued that the prosecution’s main evidence, one of nine camera angles shown, was misleading and virtually an optical illusion.
Instead, they presented three photographs they — along with coach Michael Maguire — said showed the contact was clearly front-on as Burgess attempted to remain square.
“His shoulder is actually in my jaw,” Burgess said.
“It’s physically impossible for that to happen if I’m making a shoulder charge.
“If I stayed upright I risk injury or being knocked out myself.”
Meanwhile, the NRL’s counsel Peter McGrath pointed out Burgess’ lack of effort to use his arms in the tackle, and claimed he had turned his left shoulder into Eastwood.
“You’ve transferred weight to your left foot,” McGrath said.
“You’ve leant forward with your upper left arm.”
But the three-man panel of Dallas Johnson, Tony Puletua and Mal Cochrane disagreed, taking half an hour to deliver their verdict.