31 Jul 2015

Bromwich cleared of biting

11:26 am on 31 July 2015

The Melbourne and Kiwis prop Jesse Bromwich has been cleared of biting St George Illawarra fullback Josh Dugan at the National Rugby League judiciary.

The three-man panel took just three minutes to dismiss the claim.

Kiwi rugby league player Jesse Bromwich

Kiwi rugby league player Jesse Bromwich Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Bromwich was charged with dangerous conduct from the Storm's 22-4 win in Napier last weekend and the incident was referred directly to the judiciary.

After over an hour of evidence and cross-examination of both players involved, Bromwich was swiftly cleared.

"I'm relieved to get the result and I'm happy they gave me a fair hearing," Bromwich said following the verdict.

"Look, I knew I wasn't guilty. I'll put that behind me now and move forward to this Friday night against Wests Tigers at Leichhardt. I'm looking forward to that."

Melbourne's legal counsel Nick Ghabar successfully argued that Dugan put overwhelming force on Bromwich's mouth and that the accused had to be cleared if the accusation could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Dugan made the complaint initially to referee Matt Cecchin in the 69th minute of the match, repeatedly claiming he was bitten on the right bicep by the New Zealand international.

"I did feel his mouth was open - whether or not it was open at first [before the tackle] I'm not sure - but then I felt it close down," Dugan told the hearing. "

"As soon as I went to go up I felt it. There was a red mark and an outline of saliva. It was as if someone had almost sucked on me."

When pressed if he had confused the bite for another act, Dugan replied: "I know what a bite feels like."

But during the cross-examination from the defence, Dugan admitted it was "a possibility" that Bromwich - who was having trouble inhaling during the match due to nasal surgery in June - was simply trying to breathe when Dugan forcefully applied the downward pressure.

The NRL counsel Peter McGrath argued that although the replay did not comprehensively prove a biting action occurred, Dugan's version of events warranted closer inspection.

"It's true that as we go through the footage it's hard to see player Bromwich's mouth move but there does not need to be extravagant movement for bite to take place," he said.

In his evidence, Bromwich said even though he was under duress during the tackle, which occupied two other Dragons' players in addition to Dugan, never did he commit the alleged offence.

"I was just trying to breathe. I was having trouble breathing and Josh's arm was blocking my mouth. Josh was squeezing my head and I was pinned. I was locked in," he said.

"I know my mouth was open but I didn't clamp down. Maybe he felt a sucking motion, but I didn't bite him."

When it was put to Bromwich that a combination of frustration at being delayed in playing the ball and overall fatigue led him to bite Dugan, he replied: "I was frustrated...but I didn't bite him."

Bromwich said he would never bite another player.

"I definitely didn't bite him. I'm sorry if he's thinking that I bit him," he said. "I've played a long time but I'd never bite anyone. Biting is just dirty."

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