AAP Rugby

Roosters prop not guilty at NRL judiciary

By AAP Newswire

Sydney Roosters star Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is free to face Newcastle on Saturday after beating a dangerous contact charge at the NRL judiciary.

Waerea-Hargreaves was staring at a two-game ban for his grade-one charge after clashing heads with North Queensland firebrand Josh McGuire last Sunday.

But the three-member panel of Tony Puletua, Bob Lindner and Sean Garlick took just 10 minutes to find Waerea-Hargreaves not guilty on Tuesday night.

"Obviously I would like to thank the panel and my solicitor James McLeod," Waerea-Hargreaves said after the 75-minute hearing.

"We thought we had a fair case. We gave it a really hot crack and came away with the result. So really happy and really pleased."

Waerea-Hargreaves was just one game into his return from a two-game suspension for another dangerous contact charge earlier this year.

However, he again landed in hot water after being tackled by Gavin Cooper and Shane Wright which resulted in a collision with McGuire.

Waerea-Hargreaves admitted his head made minor contact with McGuire, but described the impact as a "tap".

It was part of a compelling defence from the New Zealand international, who claimed his arms were pinned and it was an act of self-preservation.

"I can honestly say it was an instinctive reaction for me to duck my head, tuck my chin, to avoid dangerous contact with McGuire," Waerea-Hargreaves explained.

"I feel it's the best outcome for this situation."

NRL counsel Peter McGrath insisted the contact was more than minor, and argued the 30-year-old had directed his head towards McGuire.

Waerea-Hargreaves immediately dismissed the notion.

"I feel like I could've done a few things. In this situation I made the right choice. If I went squarely, we would be had flush contact," he said.

"You can obviously see (player No.1) yanking (my arm) down which puts myself in a vulnerable position.

"The option I had was to go down openly and possibly cop a forehead or both of our faces smash together and I'd be sitting here with a broken face."

Waerea-Hargreaves' inclusion is a major boost for a Roosters side that have lost five of their past seven and face a stern test against the Knights.