NRL match review committee members spent almost an hour deliberating over a Nelson Asofa-Solomona tackle before concluding the Melbourne prop had no case to answer.
The panel’s boss, Luke Patten, described any contact with Warriors hooker Wayde Egan as “possibly minor”.
Asofa-Solomona’s failure to attract a charge for an apparent forearm to the face and neck region of Egan sparked incredulity from some commentators, including Immortal Andrew Johns. “Look, I back the players all the time, and I don’t apologize for that but to me, that’s four months’ suspension,” Johns said on Nine’s Sunday Footy Show.
Patten took the unusual step of recording a video on Monday to explain how the panel had arrived at its decision not to charge Asofa-Solomona.
According to sources familiar with the situation, Patten and his fellow match review members agonized over the tackle for 45 minutes before deciding not to issue a further sanction against Asofa-Solomona, one of the most charged players in the game.
The NRL said it had clearer vision of Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves’ elbow into Manly debutant Zac Fulton, which resulted in the Kiwi international being fined, as opposed to the camera angles of Asofa-Solomona’s tackle on Egan.
Patten said the match review committee was comfortable Asofa-Solomona was trying to create space between himself and the ball carrier to avoid a crusher tackle, and decided against classifying the incident as a head slam.
A replay appeared to show Asofa-Solomona forcefully dropping his forearm onto the chin of Egan, who left the field with what he later said was two cracked teeth, despite initial fears he had broken his jaw.