UPDATED: Panthers superstar Nathan Cleary has been hit with a grade 3 charge for a dangerous throw after being sent off against the Parramatta Eels.
Cleary will face five weeks on the sideline with an early guilty plea, or six weeks if he challenges the charge and loses at the judiciary for lifting Parramatta’s Dylan Brown above the horizontal.
If the NSW star takes the early guilty plea, he’ll return for the first week of the finals.
The Panthers playmaker wrapped one arm around Brown’s waist and the other around his leg as he lifted and drove him into the ground, leading to the NSW star to exit the game in the 17th minute, with his side down 12-4.
“Hands are between his legs, you drove him into the ground — you’re off,” referee Todd Smith said as he pointed to the sheds.
The halfback was the first Penrith player sent off in 10 years since Travis Burns in 2012.
Cleary took to Instagram late Friday night to apologise for the tackle.
“Massive apologies for tonight,” Cleary said. “Filthy at myself for such a dumb moment that let the boys and the fans down.
“I’m not about that, it was terrible technique and I need to be better.”
Manly’s Karl Lawton was suspended for four weeks in May after taking an early guilty plea on his grade three dangerous throw charge, in Round 8.
But the tackle on Brown is Cleary’s second charge for the season after he was fined $1,000 for a dangerous contact offence in Round 6 against the Broncos, meaning he faces a five-match ban.
Speaking post-match last night, Penrith coach Ivan Cleary seemed resigned to losing his son and star player for some time.
“I think he is going to be missing for a bit. I don’t know how long, but judged on and based on other examples this year it is probably likely (four weeks),” said Cleary.
“I was just having a look at the incident then and it was a two man tackle that turned into a one man tackle, which I think had something to do with it.
“But at the end of the day he ended up in a position that we don’t want, so obviously being sent from the field I can’t argue with that.
“Nathan was underneath and I think Liam Martin was on top. I think James Fisher-Harris was going to come in as well, so Nathan just took his base away and probably lifted a little too much.
“We would expect at that point that the guys at the top could control that part of it and there was actually no control there and I think that’s why it ended up how it did.
“But that’s the outcome and that’s fair enough, but how it all started it wasn’t meant to look like that.”
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