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Waddell found guilty of dangerous contact

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs forward Corey Waddell has been found guilty of dangerous contact and suspended five matches, as determined by a panel at tonight's NRL judiciary hearing.

Waddell entered a not-guilty plea for a dangerous contact charge involving Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, which occurred in the 23rd minute during the club's Round 19 fixture against the Gold Coast Titans last Sunday.

The Canterbury-Bankstown back-rower will next be available for the Bulldog's Round 25 home fixture against the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Accor Stadium.

As It Happened (via

8:40pm: The second hearing involving Bulldogs forward Corey Waddell has begun.

Waddell was referred directly to the judiciary on an ungraded dangerous contact charge following a gouging allegation by Titans captain Tino Fa'asuamaleaui during Canterbury's 36-26 win on Sunday. 

8:45pm: Waddell has entered a plea of not guilty.

8:50pm: Waddell described his aim in the tackle with team-mate Max King and said at no stage did he put his fingers into Fa'asuamaleaui's eyes.

"I got into the tackle anyway I could, and I found myself in what we call the “seatbelt” tackling position," Waddell said. "I try and straighten the ball carrier so he gives up his base and loses control.

"I put my hand over Max's head and I found my hand on Tino's forehead. I didn’t apply any pressure to his face at all and then I tried to push my hips into his hips to push him back.

"With my right hand I tried to grab his jersey and shoulder. My purpose was to get him onto his back with my teammates falling on top of him.

"As I went over Max's head, I grabbed Tino’s forehead. At no stage do I apply any unnecessary or careless pressure to his face.

"As you can see as he starts to fall to the ground I release my hand. And then he grabbed my hand as he fell to the ground. At no stage were my fingers in or around his eyes."

8:58pm: Under questioning from his legal counsel, Nick Ghabar, Waddell said he didn't know why Fa'asuamaleaui had grabbed his hand.

Ghabar: At any stage did you put your fingers in his eye socket or eyelid?
Waddell: I never felt my hand in or around his eyes at all.
Ghabar: At any stage did you take your fingers across his eyes?
Waddell: No, I didn’t.
Ghabar: At any stage did you move your fingers around his eyes?
Waddell: No, I didn’t.

9:05pm: NRL prosecutor Patrick Knowles showed Waddell a still photo of the incident.

"Looking at that photograph the evidence isn’t correct because your fingers are in the eye socket, aren’t they," Knowles said to Waddell.

The Canterbury forward replied: "I believe in all honesty my fingers are across the bridge of his nose and the bottom of his forehead. You’re talking about the split of a second. My fingers were never in his eyes.

"You’re talking about the photo, you can’t tell pressure based on a photo. You’re talking about a split second within this whole second. I understand my hands aren’t in the best spot and in a perfect world they would have been but at no pressure did I put pressure in his eyes."

9:11pm: Knowles: Is this seriously your evidence? You were using your hips and your right hand to put pressure on the player but you were exerting no pressure with your left hand?
Waddell: 100 per cent.
Knowles: What you really did was leave your hand there to complete the tackle, regardless of the risk of serious injury?
Waddell: No, I don’t think I did, because my hand was there for literally one second. As I reached over Max that’s the only place I could put my hand."

9:15pm: Waddell objects to the questioning from Knowles.
"I’m sorry but the whole time - the whole tackle - I never ever had pressure in his eyes," he said.

"I never applied any careless or dangerous pressure".

Judiciary chairman Justice Geoff Bellew interjects: "You weren’t asked about pressure or injury. Do you accept or not that at one point your fingers came in contact with or across his eyes?".

Waddell replied: "No, I don’t accept that my fingers were in his eyes."

9:24pm: Knowles then asks judiciary panel members Bob Lindner and Dallas Johnson to watch a replay of the incident.

"Members of the judiciary, player Waddell is claiming that there is no pressure exerted from his right arm across the area of the face he was touching. It’s just implausible," he said.

"It barely needs to be said that the potential for damage is very serious indeed. There's a high degree of carelessness.

"He's giving evidence to protect his own position, rather than evidence of the truth off his recollection."

9:40pm: Ghabar questioned why Fa'asuamaleaui hadn't been called to testify against Waddell after making an on-field allegation that he had been gouged.

"You know that the Titans player complained immediately about this contact. However, the complainant is not here," Ghabar said.

"You would expect that the judiciary counsel would call the complainant as a witness to determine what the nature of the incident was.

"You could also ask whether the reason for the allegation on the field was to play for the penalty. The best evidence would have come from a person that is not here to give evidence. The absence of the complainant is compelling."

Knowles replied: "No player wants to give evidence against another player. It’s an unwritten code. It's simply not necessary when you've got a number of videos and images where you can determine the seriousness of the incident.”

10:02pm: The judiciary panel has adjourned to consider their verdict.

Justice Bellew told the judiciary that the main points to consider were "was there contact? was it dangerous? was it reckless or was it careless?" 

10:22pm: Waddell has been found guilty of dangerous contact.

"The panel was satisfied that there was contact between two of the players fingers and the opposing players eye socket," Justice Bellew said.

10:30pm: Knowles has recommended that Waddell be suspended for five matches, while Ghabar argued for no more than two matches.

"Contact between player's fingers and the eye socket of another player is very dangerous and something the NRL must be vigilant to protect players from," Knowles said.

"You should place a penalty on player Waddell of at least five matches. I understand it is a lengthy penalty but player Waddell is not only guilty to reckless contact but you obviously take into account his lack of contrition.

"Player Waddell has not confronted the seriousness of the offence he committed."

Ghabar said: "There was relatively low or moderate contact, relatively low or moderate degree of force and therefore a relatively low risk of injury to the eye.

"In my submission, you take into account player Fa'asuamaleaui did not appear to be in any discomfort, the risk of injury needs to be looked at in what actually eventuated in this case.

"Of course the player honestly believed he did not apply a degree of dangerous force or contact to the eye. The player honestly believed he did not commit an offence.

"You should not give additional penalty for what judiciary counsel considered a lack of contrition. In my submission this offence is only deserving of a penalty of two matches."

10:42pm: Waddell has been banned for five matches.

"The panel was mindful of dangerous contact with the eye and the risk of seriousness injury that is associated with contact of that kind," Justice Bellew said.

"In relation to the penalty, the panel was mindful of the conclusion that was reached that the player acted recklessly and also that the player’s past judiciary record did not assist him."

Acknowledgement of Country

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs respect and honour the Darug and Eora nations, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.