16 Sep 2015

Pritchard free to play semi-final

11:38 am on 16 September 2015

The Canterbury Bulldogs will go into Friday's do-or-die semi-final against the Sydney Roosters with their full arsenal after forward Frank Pritchard was cleared at the National Rugby League judiciary.

The former Kiwis enforcer is free to take on the Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Friday after the judiciary took just 13 minutes to exonerate him of a grade one dangerous contact charge.

Canterbury forward Frank Pritchard.

Canterbury forward Frank Pritchard. Photo: Photosport

Pritchard was charged by the match review committee for an incident in which he was alleged to have kneed St George Illawarra playmaker Gareth Widdop in the back during Canterbury's 11-10 golden point win on Saturday.

However his defence counsel Nick Ghabar argued while he had made contact, it was with his lower leg and any clash of bodies was unavoidable.

"I'm very grateful for the hearing and it's good news," Pritchard said.

"So I can just move forward and focus on the game ahead.

"I just want to thank everyone that helped me today."

The verdict is a big win for Canterbury coach Des Hasler as his team get set to face a dominant Roosters outfit at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.

Pritchard has been in some of the best form of his career and his giant frame will be valuable against a strong Roosters pack.

Pritchard was cleared by the three-man judiciary panel of Bronson Harrison, Mal Cochrane and Sean Garlick, a result which guarantees him at least one more game in the NRL.

The 31-year-old has signed with English Super League side Hull FC next year and a guilty verdict and one-game suspension could have spelled the end of his time in the Australian competition.

Ghabar argued that the Bulldogs forward stepped on Widdop with his left foot and tripped over him while running at full speed.

He said that the "nature of the contact was innocuous".

Pritchard told the hearing while he did make contact with Widdop's back, he connected with his lower leg or shin rather than his knee after successfully pulling out at the last moment.

Ghabar said Pritchard was running at full speed trying to retrieve the ball and had actually done well to avoid heavy contact with the knee.

When asked if contact could have been avoided, Pritchard said: "Not at all, not at full speed."

NRL counsel Peter McGrath unsuccessfully argued his case that despite Pritchard's best efforts, he still made careless contact.