“I empathise with what happened to Stephen, I have spoken to him since, but I wouldn’t change this scenario where I came out of the line to try and change the momentum of the game,” Finucane said during the hearing.
When NRL counsel Patrick Knowles suggested he could have gone lower, and therefore avoided any contact with Crichton’s head, Finucane said, “that’s your opinion”.
Ghabar said “accidental head clashes” had happened in rugby league for more than 100 years, and it would be “entirely unfair and set a dangerous precedent” if players were now rubbed out for similar offences.
Knowles, however, quickly responded: “There’s no suggestion accidental head clashes are suddenly unacceptable. What we are saying is this action by Dale Finucane was careless and it could have been avoided had he been in control … he could have approached Crichton with less speed and more care.”
NRL counsel Knowles pushed for a five-match ban while Waddell’s lawyer Ghabar argued a two-match suspension was sufficient.
Just as he pleaded his innocence in the sheds after the game, Waddell maintained at the judiciary via Zoom he had done nothing wrong.
“I never felt my hands in or around his eyes at all,” Waddell said.
“At no stage was he hurt, he didn’t go off the field, there were no scratches around his eyes, he didn’t get up in pain … he got up to complain because my hand was across the bridge of his nose and he [was] looking to get a penalty.”
Ghabar, who had earlier represented Finucane, used the word “gamesmanship” when describing Fa’asuamaleaui’s on-field blow-up about Waddell. He said the fact NRL counsel did not even call the Queensland enforcer to give evidence was “compelling”.
He said the damning still image of Waddell with his hand across Fa’asuamaleaui was “deceptive”.
Knowles said it was already well documented what Fa’asuamaleaui had said to the referee on the day, and there was an “unwritten code” among players not to give evidence against one another.
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