Melbourne Storm star Cameron Munster has been cleared over an ugly tackle that Ivan Cleary “didn’t like at all”.
Storm superstar Cameron Munster has escaped charge for a nasty tackle on Spencer Leniu that Panthers coach Ivan Cleary “didn’t like at all”.
Leniu was left prone on the turf and looked to be in trouble after he was bent backwards by Munster after having his legs trapped under the body of the Storm No.6 in the dying seconds of the first half of last night’s thrilling grand final rematch.
It was the kind of tackle that can have devastating consequences yet Leniu, who was clearly unimpressed, was lucky to get back on his feet and play the ball.
Kenny Bromwich and Nelson Asofa-Solomana were also involved in the tackle, but it was the twisting movement that Munster caused by dragging Leniu backwards from underneath him that raised concerns.
“Yes, I didn’t like it at all,” Cleary said when asked if he had an opinion on the tackle.
“But I’m his coach and there are smarter people than me to work that out.”
Storm coach Craig Bellamy conceded that the tackle “didn’t probably look good” but added that the officials had cleared play to continue despite their being enough time for the incident to be reviewed on video before Leniu shook it off and got up to play the ball.
No penalty was awarded and Munster was not placed on report.
Despite the clear displeasure shown by Leniu and the concern shared by the two coaches, the officials were today vindicated when the NRL charge sheet came out, with Munster’s name glaringly absent.
The only charge to stem from the match was a grade one dangerous contact charge for a Stephen Crichton tackle on Storm bench forward Chris Lewis. The lower grade offence will not attract a suspension with Crichton up for an $1150 fine if he pleads guilty.
The match review committee’s decision not to charge Munster indicates the view was taken that it wasn’t a hip-drop tackle, which stole headlines last season when fellow Storm player Max King was referred straight to the judiciary for a nasty tackle of a similar vein on Dragons player Blake Lawrie.
He copped a three-game ban for a tackle that stirred widespread debate, with former Panthers hard man Mark Geyer saying at the time: “I’ve never seen it before. I must confess I never want to see it again because it was very, very ugly.”
Phil Gould, meanwhile, blamed NRL coaches for its invention, telling Wide World of Sports’ Six Tackles with Gus podcast the game’s response to the intrusion of wrestling techniques had been “flawed”.
“The game has to take responsibility for this because the tackle techniques that are used today have been brought on by the rule changes and interpretations over time,” Gould said.
In his post-match press conference last night, Cleary pressed on whether he thought Munster had executed a hip drop tackle on Leniu.
“Don’t ask me, but I just didn’t like it,” Cleary repeated.
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