Fans have vented their frustration after Jared Waerea-Hargreaves escaped a suspension and will be free to play for the Roosters against the Rabbitohs this weekend.
The Kiwi Test prop was found not guilty on Tuesday night of a grade-one careless high-tackle charge on Liam Knight, despite the South Sydney prop suffering a nasty gash above his left eye and having to be taken from ANZ Stadium in a medicab.
Knight still has to pass concussion protocols to play the return clash between the two local rivals, however Waerea-Hargreaves will be free to play, setting the scene for a fiery match-up at the SCG.
"I'm really happy with the result and so looking forward to prepping as much as I can and getting into Friday against the Bunnies," a relieved Waerea-Hargreaves said.
The matter was made more polarising after Phil Gould and Paul Galen clashed on live TV over Sam Burgess’ one-week suspension for puling an opponent’s hair.
But fans couldn’t believe the Roosters enforcer escaped suspension, which left Knight in a bloody mess.
This year has been a joke— Squigiez (@CodyWSmallwood) September 10, 2019
Is this fair ? This is an absolute joke !— Michael Zezovski (@MichaelZezovski) September 10, 2019
@Todd_Greenberg @NRL the Judiciary had the chance to stand tall this weekend , and it didn't. Instead of doing the right, it did the wrong thing to generate hype and publicity. Shame on you. #NRLFinals #Corruption #NRL #NRLMRC— League_dumdum (@SowhatNugget) September 10, 2019
The nrl judiciary seems more cooked than the afl— Justin Mccoy (@jmccoy17) September 10, 2019
NRL counsel Peter McGrath attempted to argue that the Roosters' prop was guilty of rushing into the tackle.
But the three-man panel of Mal Cochrane, Tony Puletua and Dallas Johnson took just 15 minutes to find Waerea-Hargreaves not guilty.
Waerea-Hargreaves gave evidence that he was attempting to plug a hole after Knight beat Boyd Cordner and that he was bracing to make a "catching tackle".
He argued that after Knight's left arm flicked him across the face, he turned his body and Knight fell into his bicep.
"I was hoping he would fall into my chest, this catching tackle. I flinched, opened up my body and he fell into my bicep," Waerea-Hargreaves said.
He also refuted that he acted carelessly, with his counsel James McLeod describing it as a rugby league accident.
"No, not at all do I think it was careless," Waerea-Hargreaves said before adding that he was unable to avoid contact with the head.