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July 28: Graham Murray dies; Six-month biting investigation ends

On this day, a six-month biting investigation ends with a not guilty finding, Graham Murray dies and Hazem El Masri stuns the Knights.


St George front-rower Bill McRitchie has part of his right ear bitten off in a scrum during a match against Newtown. He spent the next 22 weeks in hospital undergoing skin grafts.

In an investigation that lasted six months, McRitchie accused Newtown prop Frank "Bumper" Farrell of biting him. In February 1946, the League's General Committee cleared Farrell of all charges, by 15 votes to 13.


Eels, NSW and Australia centre Steve Ella is born. He scored 94 tries in 157 matches for Parramatta and was part of premiership-winning teams in 1981-83 and '86. "The Zip-Zip Man" also played nine matches for NSW and six times (including four Tests) for Australia.

Parramatta Eels great Steve Ella in action in 1983.
Parramatta Eels great Steve Ella in action in 1983. ©NRL Photos


Hazem El Masri kicks a goal from the sideline to give the Bulldogs a 22-21 win over the Knights in Newcastle. The Bulldogs had trailed 19-0 before fighting back to make it 16 straight wins.


In a sad day for the game, former NSW State of Origin coach Graham Murray dies in a Brisbane hospital following a second heart attack.

The 58-year-old had stints with Illawarra, the Hunter Mariners, Sydney Roosters and North Queensland and English club Leeds.

Hazem El Masri after beating the Knights in 2002.
Hazem El Masri after beating the Knights in 2002. ©NRL Photos


The NRL is reported to be considering scrapping the minimum age restriction for NRL players to allow teenage prodigy Joseph Suaalii to make his NRL debut for the Rabbitohs in 2021 before he turns 18.


This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton.


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