Souths hooker Issac Luke has been found not guilty of a dangerous contact charge and will play in Thursday’s final round NRL clash with the Roosters.
South Sydney hooker Issac Luke is free to play in Thursday’s final round clash against the Sydney Roosters after being found not guilty of a grade one dangerous contact charge at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night.
In giving evidence against the grade one charge Luke said he felt “helpless” in the tackle of Canterbury hooker Michael Ennis early in the Rabbitohs’ win at ANZ Stadium on Thursday.
The Kiwi rake claimed he kicked out at Ennis because he feared for his safety.
“I felt a lot of pressure going through my neck and I found it hard to breathe,” he said.
“I was panicking about my neck being broken.
“I have kids that I want to put food in their mouths.
“I was trying to get my neck out of that position.
“All I was trying to do was break out of that hold.
“It was pretty scary.”
Defence counsel Nick Ghabar said the “invidious”, “impossible and perilous” position that Luke was placed in by Ennis amounted to a “crusher tackle-type hold”, despite him not being charged with one by the NRL match review committee.
Ghabar said that pushing out with a “glancing” blow with his feet was the only option available to Luke after being placed in the hold for four seconds.
“It was the mother of necessity for his own self interest,” Ghabar said.
“He was quite entitled to act in the way he did.
“There was an unacceptable risk of injury.
“There was no forceful contact, it was not careless.
“This is an agony of the moment situation.”
Prosecution counsel Peter Kite unsuccessfully argued that Luke had kicked out at Ennis after he had released him.
“Self defence and provocation is no defence to the charge,” he said.
Judiciary chairman Paul Conlon dismissed the panel of Mal Cochrane, Paul Whatuira and Michael Vella from the room for several minutes as legal argument ensued over whether Luke could be found guilty if he had lashed out because of fears for his safety.
Upon returning and receiving the above directions from Conlon, the panel deliberated for seven minutes before returning the not guilty verdict.
If Luke had been found guilty he would have been outed for two matches.
Instead he will be free to take to Allianz Stadium against the Roosters.
Luke said afterwards he was relieved to be found not guilty.
“I’m looking forward to Thursday,” he said.
However Souths will be without halfback Adam Reynolds who took the early guilty plea on a grade one dangerous contact charge and will miss one game.
Dale Finucane will miss the Bulldogs’ match against the Gold Coast on Sunday after taking the early plea on a grade one dangerous throw.
Mitch Rein’s season is over after the St George Illawarra hooker took the plea on a grade one dangerous contact charge earning him a one match ban.
Gold Coast enforcer Greg Bird has also played his last NRL game for 2014, after being outed for one match for a dangerous throw.
Penrith’s Adam Docker will miss two matches due to a grade one dangerous throw.
Retiring Parramatta utility Ben Smith’s career is over after he was banned for three matches for a crusher tackle.
Michael Jennings and Sam Rapira won’t miss a week after taking the early plea on grade one careless high tackle and grade one dangerous contact charges respectively.