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As it happened: Judiciary - Three guilty verdicts

Live coverage of the NRL judiciary hearings for Victor Radley, Angus Crichton and Elliott Whitehead.

Refresh this page for regular updates during the night.

10pm: Whitehead has been found guilty at the judiciary and fined $1500 for tripping.

9pm: Elliott Whitehead’s hearing has started. Represented by Raiders football manager Matt Ford, the English back-rower has pleaded not guilty to tripping Storm fullback Nicho Hynes and is aiming to have a $1500 fine overturned.

Whitehead is appearing by video link.

8.44pm: Crichton is found guilty of his grade one dangerous contact for a late shot on Albert Kelly, having unsuccessfully argued that his vision was impaired when he tackled the Broncos half, and he was not aware he had passed the ball.

Carry-over points from three prior incidents in the past two years bumped Crichton's ban up from a potential fine to two-week suspension.

8.34pm: Panel deliberating now.

8.26pm: “That’s a simple explanation, it’s a good explanation, and if you find it was true, you wouldn’t find he was careless in the circumstances,” McLeod says before finishing his address.

Judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew is recalling the arguments.

Crichton cited for tackle on Kelly

8.24: McLeod now making his submission. He says there are three points to the charge that the prosecution must prove: contact, dangerous contact and careless conduct. The defence disputes the latter two points.

In arguing against the dangerous part of the charge, McLeod describes the contact as an “innocuous check” that “did not involve an unacceptable risk of injury”. And he puts it to the panel that if they believed Crichton’s evidence, they cannot find the Roosters star was careless because of his claim that once he realised the ball was gone, he effectively pulled out of the tackle.

8.15pm: McGraths posits that “it would have become apparent to player Crichton that the ball had been passed but he dips in and makes the tackle”. He says “the contact was avoidable” and that Crichton was careless in tackling a vulnerable Kelly who wasn’t braced.

8.10pm: NRL counsel Peter McGrath is now cross-examining Crichton. He asks the forward if he was preparing to make a wrapping tackle. “Yes,” Crichton says, “because I thought he still had the ball.”

Referring to a video replay of the incident, McGrath suggests to Crichton:  “You dip in and nudge him with your shoulder without any attempt to use your arms”. Crichton disagrees.

McGrath puts it to Crichton that his contact was late. “Upon review, I can see the contact was quite late,” Crichton admits, “but it was only because I thought he still had the ball in his hands.”

Now making his submission, McGrath says to the panel that Crichton made no attempt to make contact until after Kelly had passed the ball.

8.05pm: Crichton argues that he showed “care” for Kelly by not taking him to ground once he realised the halfback wasn’t braced for contact.

“My only interest in this play is to kill the play and tackle the guy with the ball,” Crichton says.“I think halfbacks and playmakers, they show the ball and they hide the ball from us as defenders. In this instance I thought he still had the ball ... it wasn’t until I had contacted him that I realised the ball had been passed.

“You can see I pull out of the tackle completely and I had to stop trying to tackle the player ... I don’t take him to ground.”

Radley charged twice, facing 2-5 weeks out

8pm: Crichton has pleaded not guilty to grade one dangerous contact for a tackle on Broncos playmaker Albert Kelly after he passed the ball. The second-rower, who is risking a two-match ban, is giving evidence.

He says that Kelly’s “biggest play is his show-and-go” and he was on alert as the Roosters had studied him in the lead-up to the match.

“In this instance he’s coming across the field ... as the ball goes I think he’s still going the ball,” Crichton says, arguing that his vision of the ball was obstructed by Kelly’s shoulder.

7.50pm: Roosters second-rower Angus Crichton has sat down for his hearing. He’ll also be represented by James McLeod.

7.41pm: Roosters pocket rocket Victor Radley has been rubbed out for five games and the first two Origin games after the grading of his "launched" high tackle on Tevita Pangai jnr was upheld.

Radley's grade two careless high tackle charge was upheld at the judiciary on Tuesday night after a 70-minute hearing.

The 23-year-old had already accepted a one-week suspension for a separate hit on Brisbane's Albert Kelly.

Either way Radley was already banned from Origin I given any reduction would have resulted in a two-week suspension.

7.11pm: The panel is now deliberating.

7pm: Now looking at the comparable incidents, McLeod brands Asofa-Solomona’s grade one charge in 2020 “much worse” than Radley’s in terms of culpability. He claims that unlike Radley, who attempted to wrap around Pangai, Asofa-Solomona “thrusted” his shoulder into the Eels player with his arm by his side.

“There is greater force and a greater risk of injury,” McLeod says. Radley’s counsel goes on to say that touch judge Belinda Sleeman, who was nearest to the collision with Pangai, didn’t raise a complaint.

Roosters lock Victor Radley.
Roosters lock Victor Radley. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

“There’s got to be some relevance and importance, in my submissions, to the on-field officials and whether they take action at the time,” McLeod says as he asks the panel to consider whether Sleeman had a “good view”.

In conclusion, McLeod submits to the panel, “You will not be persuaded by the use of the phrase ‘difference climate’ ” - referencing the game’s crackdown on high contact.

Judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew is now recalling both arguments and instructing the panel.

6.50pm: Reviewing frame-by-frame footage of the incident, McLeod argues that Radley’s initial contact was with Pangai’s upper chest and shoulder before “regrettably” impacting the Bronco’s head.

He says Pangai played his part in the collision by running at speed and bracing himself while claiming Radley’s technique wasn’t a major issue in this instance. “He doesn’t jump up at the head, he gets on his toes and momentarily leaves the ground ... [to tackle] a bigger player,” McLeod adds.

6.40pm: With McGrath wrapping up his submission, Radley’s counsel James McLeod takes up the talking. He comes out strong, declaring Radley’s offence “comfortably” falls into grade-one range.

McLeod contends that Radley mainly made “body-on-body contact” with Pangai jnr and there was “fleeting, incidental contact to the head”.

While NRL prosecutor McGrath noted that Radley “launched” into the tackle, McLeod reiterated that “the only force we’re concerned to scrutinise is force to the head” - not body contact.

McLeod says Radley “marginally failed” in his execution and put his hand up for that by pleading guilty to the charge but disputing the grading. “He is entitled to make a ball-and-all wrapping tackle on a forward trying to get to his [try] line,” McLeod says, contending the risk of injury was low and that Pangai was fine.

6.25pm: Radley is relying on a comparable incident from last year in which Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona copped a grade one careless high tackle charge against the Eels. McGrath argues that Asofa-Solomona took fewer steps before contact, so the force was far less than in Radley’s case.

McGrath posits to the panel that they’ll find another comparable - Parramatta bookend Reagan Campbell-Gillard’s grade two shot on Manly’s Haumole Olakau’tua on Sunday - of more assistance.

6.20pm: NRL prosecutor Peter McGrath submits that Radley “launched himself” at Pangai jnr, aimed to make contact above the ball and imparted “moderate force” upon impact. With there being a small margin for error in that contact zone, McGrath says Radley had a higher duty of care in the tackle.

He claims there was “direct contact to the head” and that Pangai’s height didn’t change dramatically, arguing Radley could have easily aimed lower on his opponent’s body.

Raiders back-rower Elliott Whitehead.
Raiders back-rower Elliott Whitehead. ©David Hossack/NRL Photos

6.06pm: Victor Radley’s hearing is underway. The Roosters lock is being represented by James McLeod while Peter McGrath is the NRL prosecutor.

Radley is seeking to have a grade two careless high tackle charge downgraded. Having already accepted a one-match ban for dangerous contact on Broncos playmaker Albert Kelly, Radley will miss a total of two weeks if he is successful in his challenge.

However, if unsuccessful he’ll cop four weeks for his 42nd-minute shot on Tevita Pangai Jnr - taking his punishment to five matches on the sideline. 

6pm: The schedule for the hearings is:

  • 6pm - Victor Radley (Roosters)
  • 7.30pm - Angus Crichton (Roosters)
  • 9pm - Elliott Whitehead (Raiders)

The judiciary panel consists of Tony Puletua, Dallas Johnson and Bob Lindner.