Live coverage of the NRL judiciary hearings for Felise Kaufusi and Luciano Leilua.
Refresh this page for regular updates during the night.
8.45pm: The verdict is in: Luciano Leilua has been found not guilty.
He has avoided a two-match ban and is free to play the Panthers on Friday.
8.21: The panel has been left to deliberate at 8.21pm
8.15pm: “The evidence is pretty powerful that there was nothing careless about this contact,” Ghabar says in closing.
He says Leilua was “quite careful in bending at the waist, driving through” and trying to wrap with both arms.
Ghabar makes mention of the fact that there was no referee’s report and no penalty was blown at the time.
Judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew is now recapping the arguments. He reminds the panel that while they can take into account that no action was taken by the referee, they have to make split-seconds decisions.
8.04pm: Ghabar starts his argument by referencing the code’s definition of a shoulder charge, which suggests “that a shoulder charge is made when [a player] uses his shoulder and or upper arm without at the same time using his arms to tackle or otherwise take hold of the opposing player”.
“I would submit that you can’t narrowly construe a tackle ... To narrowly construe it like that is not what the code speaks of,” Ghabar says.
“In my submission, it’s clear that player Leilua has at least attempted if not used his arms.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with that contact. That is legitimate contact.”
7.51pm: McGrath now making his submission. He says that while Leilua claimed his intention was to wrap, the footage shows that he was tucking his left arm to brace for a shoulder charge.
He says the force in the tackle was obvious given Lawrie went tumbling to the ground and Ofahengaue had a “minimal” role.
McGrath also posits that Leilua had sufficient time to take care with his technique.
7.42pm: NRL counsel Nick McGrath asks Leilua whether he would’ve been able to free his left arm had he “taken more care”.
“I did take care,” responds Leilua, who says that everything happened quickly.
McGrath puts it to Leilua that “you’re actually starting to tuck that left arm up into your body”.
Leilua disagrees: “I’m trying to go up in a wrapping motion but he’s come into my space real quick and it’s prevented my arm and my hand from coming fully around.”
7.34pm: Leilua is giving evidence with prompting from Ghabar, who asks what tackle the forward was trying to make as Lawrie ran at him.
“He’s running to my left shoulder. I could see him juggling the ball. I tried to get both arms and make good contact and wrap him ... try to stop him offloading,” Leilua says.
The back-rower claims he was always attempting to “use proper technique, just try to get both arms in the wrapping position”.
While his right arm wrapped around Lawrie, Leilua claims the positioning of his Tigers teammate Joe Ofahengaue meant he couldn’t fully free his left arm.
7.23pm: Leilua’s hearing is underway. The Wests Tigers second-rower, represented by Nick Ghabar, is faced with a two-game suspension after an alleged grade-one shoulder charge on Dragons prop Blake Laurie.
Leilua will be free to play against Penrith on Friday if he beats the charge.
Tony Puletua, Sean Garlick and Ben Creagh make up the judiciary panel.
7.13pm: Luciano Leilua's shoulder charge hearing is up next.
7.01pm: The verdict has come in: not guilty. Felise Kaufusi is free to play in State of Origin I.
Kaufusi started cheering loudly after the verdict was announced.
6.45pm: Panel has left to deliberate at 6.45pm.
6.38pm: “You see nothing [change in regards to markings] about [Turpin’s] knee, the thigh or the leg. And the stumble that was suggested occurs well after any suggested contact,” Ghabar adds.
“So take the stumble out of your minds, in my submission ... On the balance of probabilities you cannot establish there was actual contact.”
Ghabar urges the panel not to “be under the misconception that he’s lashed out ... as he appreciates player Turpin is coming he drops his leg to the ground.
“What he’s tried to do is get his leg out of the way. Under those circumstances, in my submission, you cannot establish recklessness,” he concludes.
Judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew is now recapping the arguments and instructing the panel.
The trip that could rule Kaufusi out of Origin I
6.31pm: “I suggest that we have contact such as that player Turpin continues through [on his run], he’s actually impeded and he’s almost actually tripped,” McGrath says.
He describes the impact as “glancing contact” that caused a “slight stumble and overbalance”.
Ghabar then begins his response and reiterates that Kaufusi was “clear and direct” in his evidence of there being “no contact” with Turpin.
He goes on to claim that Turpin didn’t stumble and instead was trying to change direction to avoid defender Jahrome Hughes.
6.22pm: McGrath is now making his submission. His case is that Kaufusi foresaw that contact with Turpin may occur and “recklessly” went through with his motion anyway.
“In that split-second, he chose to move his right leg and foot to not only attempt to bring into contact with player Turpin but made contact with player Turpin,” McGrath says.
6.18pm: The act in question stems from a 74th-minute incident in the Storm’s win over the Broncos last Thursday where Kaufusi appeared to kick out at Jake Turpin.
Kaufusi is giving evidence to explain his version of events. He says that after making a tackle on Tevita Pangai jnr and realising he offloaded the ball, he extended his leg in a “sprawling” technique to get up.
The Melbourne star says he then attempted to bring his foot down once he was aware that Turpin had the ball, claiming there was no contact between the pair.
“As a defender, you can see I just made that tackle on Tevita Pangai jnr ... I’m thinking far out, he’s just offloaded, I need to get up urgently,” Kaufusi says after prompting from Ghabar.
“In transition I’m bringing my leg up to try and bring myself back to my feet ... it was in transition I then saw Jake Turpin and I brought my leg down.
“You want to make the tackle and if you do see an offload, my next job is to get up on my feet.”
McGrath puts it to Kaufusi that he intentionally impeded Turpin and made contact with him.
“Absolutely not,” Kaufusi says. “I don’t know what you’re seeing mate because there is no contact.”
6.02pm: Felise Kaufusi’s hearing has started. The Maroons second-rower, who is appearing via video link, is aiming to avoid a one-match ban for a grade one tripping charge so he can play in next Wednesday’s State of Origin opener.
Normally the charge would result in a fine, but two non-similar offences in the past two years meant Kaufusi would have copped a suspension even if he took the early guilty plea.
He is being represented by Nick Ghabar while Peter McGrath is the NRL prosecutor.
6pm: The schedule for the hearings is:
- 6pm - Felise Kaufusi (Storm)
- 7.30pm - Luciano Leilua (Wests Tigers)
The judiciary panel consists of Tony Puletua, Sean Garlick and Dallas Johnson.