NRL Match Review Committee manager Luke Patten has outlined why Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona escaped punishment for an ugly elbow on Wayde Egan — explaining there was only “minor contact”.
Asofa-Solomona’s elbow came down hard on the dummy-half’s chin, forcing him to leave the field in the fourth minute.
The hulking front rower was placed on report for the incident, but escaped sanction — which has since been heavily scrutinised by the rugby league community.
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Patten, who played 282 NRL games, explained the MRC first cleared that the incident didn’t include a crusher tackle.
“There was a number of things for the MRC to consider,” Patten said.
“First of all we identified that there was an extra player, Kaufusi, contributing to the force of the tackle as he joins.
“Two big men, on a smaller man, we identified that Nelson creates space, so there is no crusher force or pressure applied to Egan’s neck here.”
Patten went on to explain that there was “clear separation” between Asofa-Solomona’s elbow and Egan’s head, meaning the MRC cleared a head slam.
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“There was a couple of other things that we needed to clear in this tackle, firstly it was the head slam, we see that there is clear separation from Nelson’s right arm as Wade Egan sort of gets thrown to the ground,” Patten said.
“Nelson has a good grip with his left arm, but there is clear separation, whereas in a head slam you’d see that arm isolate the head and really slam it into the ground.
Then, Patten moved on to the dangerous contact aspect — the exact charge that was handed down to Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves for a similar incident.
The Tricolours prop dropped his elbow onto the head of debutant Zac Fulton, earning a $3,000 fine with an early plea.
Patten said that in this instance there was only “minor contact” with Egan’s neck, and therefore no further action was taken.
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“We have cleared that because his arm does separate from Egan, secondly was the dangerous contact aspect that we had to clear here,” Patten said.
“As I mentioned previously, Nelson has a grip with his left arm and there is clear separation, in one of the back angles you can see Nelson gets a grip under Egan’s left arm, under the underarm.
“We believe that Nelson’s right arm was diagonal from that grip, so diagonally across his chest and that there might be possible minor contact at the end of the tackle with Nelson’s forearm to possibly the neck and chin area.
“But that was only minor contact, it was a forceful tackle which unfortunately resulted in Egan’s head going into the ground.
“But these were all the things that we considered when we ruled that this accidental incident was ruled NFA for us.”