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As it happened: Bromwich, Proctor, Fuimaono found guilty

NRL.com is providing live coverage of tonight's judiciary hearings for Titans forward Kevin Proctor, Storm prop Jesse Bromwich and Dragons back-rower Tyrell Fuimaono.

Refresh this page during the night for the latest updates.

Schedule for the hearings: 5pm - Jesse Bromwich found guilty7.30pm - Kevin Proctor found guilty; 10.30pm - Tyrell Fuimaono found guilty

Fuimaono suspended for two matches

11.33pm: The panel has returned after seven minutes of deliberating and have maintained the charge as a grade two, meaning Fuimaono remains suspended and will miss two matches.

11:23: The panel is deliberating now to decide whether Fuimaono's charge will be downgraded.

11.18: Ghabar suggests that Liam Knight's hip drop tackle on Jordan McLean was in fact more dangerous than Fuimaono's challenge despite it being graded lower. He shows footage of Knight landing on McLean's right ankle in a fashion he says is more "flush" than Fuimaono's contact with Paulo.

"It cannot be any worse than this particular tackle and certainly it shouldn't be anything above."

10.58pm: Fuimaono's representative Nick Ghabar is speaking now.

Ghabar says that Fuimaono landed "wholly on the ground with half of his body on the lower left leg" of Paulo. He says Fuimaono accepted there was a risk of injury, hence why he pleaded guilty, but argues it's not worthy of a grade two. "You shouldn't confuse force with momentum", he says, arguing that Paulo driving forward may create the illusion of a greater impact.

Ghabar: "A lot of the force is picked up by the ground ... I accept there is incidental contact with [Paulo's] ankle at that point but it is after the force has been by taken by the ground." He adds there is no evidence or allegation of any injury being sustained.

10.48pm: NRL counsel Peter McGrath claims the force of Fuimaono's third-man-in hip drop tackle on Junior Paulo warranted a grade-two charge. He says that is the key difference between this incident and Liam Knight's tackle on Jordan McLean.

As he argued against Bromwich earlier, McGrath says both of Fuimaono's feet left the ground before he swivelled his hips and landed on the "vulnerable" Paulo's lower limb, causing an unacceptable risk of injury.

McGrath: "He brings his whole body weight to bear ... He launches himself from the ground so the full body weight comes into contact with the lower limb, that left ankle of player Paulo."

10.40pm: A grade-one offence from Rabbitohs forward Liam Knight against the Cowboys on the weekend has been shown for the judiciary to compare with Fuimaono's tackle.

10.35pm: Tyrell Fuimaono's hearing has started. The Dragons back-rower, being represented by Nick Ghabar, is seeking a downgrade from a grade-two dangerous contact charge in order to avoid suspension. The incident in question is similar to the "hip drop" tackle that Storm prop Jesse Bromwich was suspended for earlier in the night.

Proctor free to play again in 2020

Kevin Proctor suspended for four rounds

10.15pm: A four-match ban has been handed down after taking into account a 25 percent discount for Proctor having gone seven years without an incident.

The Titans captain will be available in round 19 against Manly, giving him a chance to press for a new contract.

10.05pm: Bellew says the panel is required to take into account that Proctor has only had been charged once in a 12-year NRL career when deciding on their penalty. Bellew says the panel can take into account that Proctor was sent off in the 56th minute against Cronulla and has already served some penalty.

Proctor's lawyer Tim Fuller asserts that the most minimal sanction should be applied given the forward's previously clean record.

NRL counsel is recommending a ban of four to six weeks. The panel has gone to deliberate again to decide the penalty.

9.57pm: Kevin Proctor has been found guilty of biting.

9.49pm: After more than two hours of evidence, the panel has gone to deliberate.

9.40pm: Judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew is still giving instructions.

9.27pm: And that's it from Fuller. Now Bellew is giving directions to the panel.

Bellew instructs the panel to ignore any opinions on the much-publicised case expressed outside of the hearing. He also instructs them to ignore any media or social media comments on the case from Johnson, Proctor, his teammates or any club officials.

9.20pm: Wrapping up, McGrath says it may not have been a long or strong bite, but he submits all the evidence points to Proctor being guilty. Over to Fuller.

Fuller says there must be proof of a bite occurring in order to find Proctor guilty, and after the extensive review of video footage, "it is unclear as to whether an actual bite has occurred". He submits there is "absolutely no evidence" that the red mark on Johnson's arm was caused by a bite.

Fuller says Proctor was only "doing what he is coached to do" in trying to get to his feet and play the ball so the Titans could "get a roll on". He says no judiciary medical report was prepared by the Cronulla Sharks, suggesting there was no injury to Johnson.

Fuller says Johnson had the right to "reflect" and change his mind about whether he was bitten.

9.06pm: Footage is being played again. McGrath: "[Proctor's] mouth comes away and then he makes contact again with a biting motion."

McGrath says there "wasn't a Jaws-like chomp" but asserts there is a clear bite. He argues that a grimace is apparent on Johnson's face during the incident: "An expression of pain."

McGrath is focusing on Johnson's sustained anger in the aftermath of the incident.

8.57pm: The panel has returned. NRL counsel McGrath now making his submission.

McGrath says the panel have to be satisfied there was intentional dangerous contact. "My case is what you see, and what all the evidence adds up to, is biting by player Proctor in that moment - perhaps in that very short moment - on the forearm of player Johnson."

He points to Johnson's initial angry reaction to the incident and the observation of a red mark on the player's forearm by referee Henry Perenara. "Whatever [Johnson] wishes to say now, at the time we saw that honest reaction." 

McGrath argues that Johnson "opened a box that he couldn't put everything back in" and started to backtrack after realising the effect his complaint could have on Proctor's reputation, outlining the pair's long friendship.

8.48pm: The panel is retiring for the moment as judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew speaks to the counsel.

8.43pm: Proctor: "He doesn't let go of my head the whole time with his arm." He denies that he brought his mouth back to Johnson's arm after McGrath suggests they had been briefly separated.

Proctor denies it was an intentional action to have Johnson's arm in his mouth. McGrath suggests that Proctor had bitten him in frustration after being slowed down in the play-the-ball.

McGrath's cross-examination is done; Fuller picks up his questioning again.

8.38pm: Proctor says the force of Johnson's arm and his struggle to breathe resulted in his mouth opening on Johnson's forearm. McGrath suggests Proctor "gave that arm of [Johnson's] a nip". Proctor says: "That's incorrect."

Evidence has now been going for almost 70 minutes.

8.35pm: NRL counsel Peter McGrath is now cross-examining. 

The Titans captain says he was frustrated by Johnson's actions in the tackle: "He was slowing me down by covering my mouth." McGrath puts it to Proctor that he could have turned his head to the left to free himself from Johnson's grip. Proctor disagrees.

McGrath: "Are you saying the grip of his right forearm was so strong that you weren't able to get air through your mouth by moving your head or moving at all?" Proctor: "Yes."

8.30pm: Kevin Proctor is now weighing in under questioning from Fuller. 

Proctor says the force from Johnson's arm was significant and he couldn't breathe well due to sinus issues. "I was really struggling for air and opening my mouth was the only way to get it."

Proctor: "The only way I can really breathe is out of my mouth so I opened it". Asked if he bit Johnson: "No, definitely not."

8.28pm: Kevin Proctor's lawyer Tim Fuller: "Do you at this point in time believe that Kevin bit you on the football field?"

Shaun Johnson: "No".

And with that, Johnson is excused.

8.25pm: Asked if he believes that what happens on the field should stay on the field, Johnson says: "I like to be believe that but clearly...". He says he would have preferred the incident to not have blown up.

McGrath asks Johnson if he is making his statement tonight out of loyalty to Proctor. "No," says Johnson. He says he felt bad that Proctor was sent off in his 250th match.

Fuller is now re-examining Johnson.

8.21pm: Shaun Johnson says it wasn't until he took a step back and thought about the fact "it was Kevin" - his New Zealand teammate - who was involved in the incident that he began to believe he wasn't bitten. Says he was aware he was tackling Proctor all along.

It is also pointed out that Johnson spent the previous minute abusing Proctor.

The Cronulla star disagrees with the assertion he began to reconsider his stance on the incident just because Proctor was involved.

8.13pm: Johnson confirms he did not feel a biting motion from Proctor. Fuller's questioning has finished, with NRL counsel Peter McGrath now cross-examining.

Asked if he initially reacted to the incident with words to the effect of, "You've bitten me", Johnson says: "Yes".

Johnson says he wasn't confident "to the full extent" that Proctor had bitten him even in the immediate aftermath.

8.10pm: Johnson says at the time of the incident he felt his arm was pressuring Proctor's mouth area. Says with Proctor wriggling around and himself continuing to apply pressure in the tackle, it felt like he was bitten.

Johnson: "I'm not going to sit here and say Kevin opened his mouth and closed his mouth on my arm ... My arm was pressed against his face, so I don't know if it would have allowed him to do that."

Proctor sent off after alleged bite on Johnson

8.08pm: Sharks playmaker Shaun Johnson is now giving evidence about Kevin Proctor's alleged bite.

Johnson's first formal statement was deemed inadmissible.

Johnson: "As the match when I on, I thought it didn't really make sense. At the time it happened it felt like I got bit."

He says after the game "it didn't add up". The halfback says he knew he had a tight grip on Proctor.

Fuller: "Did you think that mark was caused by a bite?" Johnson: "Yes I did ... I must say I've never been bitten before. I thought that's what it would have felt like in that moment."

7.58pm: Asked if Johnson said he didn't want to make an official complaint on the field, Perenara says: "That's incorrect". He says he did not get an answer from Johnson as the Sharks halfback and Proctor were exchanging words.

Perenara: "There was a red mark in a circular motion. That's what I saw and like I said, I did not see any teeth marks."

That wraps up Perenara's evidence. Johnson is being connected on the line.

7.54pm: Kevin Proctor's lawyer Tim Fuller is beginning his cross-examination of referee Henry Perenara. Perenara says he initially ruled six-again to the Titans as Johnson made the first breach. He waited until after the next tackle to stop play after hearing Johnson's accusation so there was a definitive point for play to restart.

Fuller asks whether Perenara thought Johnson was bitten but the submission is rejected by Bellew, who says the referee's thoughts aren't relevant.

Perenara says he's had no prior experience with biting complaints as a referee.

7.48pm: Henry Perenara is now being questioned by NRL counsel Peter McGrath about his referee's incident report.

McGrath is pressing on the fact Perenara wrote in his report that he saw a "clear, red mark" on Shaun Johnson's arm after his unofficial complaint of being bitten.

Perenara confirms he asked Johnson to see his arm and saw a red mark; however, he did not see teeth marks.

Perenara: "I can only tell you what I saw on the day and like I said in my report, that's what I saw and that's what my touch judge saw as well." He says his first objective was to "separate people" and ensure that tensions didn't escalate, meaning he only had one chance to see Johnson's arm.

Perenara confirms he wrote on his report: "Johnson complained about being bitten on his forearm which prompted me to stop play."

7.40pm: Eight angles are being played of the incident, including one where Shaun Johnson shows his arm to the referee. Audio is also played where Johnson remarks he doesn't "want a penalty".

7.29pm: And after a 91-minute delay we're about to kick off. The panel of Bob Lindner, Ben Creagh and Sean Garlick will hear Kevin Proctor's case.

We're underway. Footage is being played of the alleged bite.

Proctor sent off in game 250 for alleged bite

7.18pm: The hearing's now been delayed by 75 minutes. Must be some evidence being deliberated in there.

6.50pm: The reason for the delay in Proctor's case beginning is some judicial proceedings are being sorted out between the defence and NRL counsel - working out what is admissible from both parties.

Still 15 minutes away but in the best news of the night, pizzas are on the way.

It's also understood NRL judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew is not impressed with the public commentary that has gone on around Proctor's case, with him giving several interviews protesting his innocence and Shaun Johnson also taking to Instagram to talk about. Bellew expected to call it out at the end of the hearing and the NRL also going to be looking into it on Wednesday with suggestion of fines for breaching judiciary protocols.

6.45pm: Still waiting for Kevin Proctor's hearing to begin but in the interim, a breakdown of biting hearings over the years:

  • Chris Beattie - guilty, two weeks, 2001
  • Luke Bailey - found not guilty, 2002
  • Fuifui Moimoi - found not guilty, 2006
  • Brad Morrin - guilty, eight weeks, 2007
  • Jarrad Saffy - found not guilty, 2008
  • William Zillman - guilty, 4 weeks, 2009
  • Scott Bolton - found not guilty, 2010
  • James Graham - guilty, 12 weeks, 2012

Jesse Bromwich found guilty

6.08pm: The first verdict of the night is in: Bromwich is found guilty and will be suspended for round 15.

Now we've got a short break before the next hearing with Kevin Proctor.

6pm: And we're away. After an hour's worth of evidence the panel retires to work this one out.

5.50pm: Both arguments have wrapped up now in Bromwich's case, judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew giving a summary of each before panel retires for deliberation.

5.45pm: Ghabar now pulls up Graham Annesley's memo to clubs on hip drop tackles.

He points to wording around "heavily impacts" an attacking player that Annesley pointed to in describing hip drop tackles a month ago. Ghabar cites NRL counsel McGrath's own description of Bromwich's low-to-medium level contact - Ghabar arguing this tackle doesn't fit the descriptor.

He also points out there was nothing in the referees' report and the fact there was no penalty awarded at the time.

5.40pm: Jesse Bromwich's representative Nick Ghabar has begun his defence now.

Ghabar: "Bromwich makes what I would describe as careful contact."

Ghabar is arguing Bromwich doesn't spear in at Ikuvalu's legs and doesn't use excessive force in bringing him to the ground. "He's not applying a great deal of force to the right leg or ankle of Ikuvalu, he doesn't drop his body weight onto the right leg or ankle... he places his body weight on the ground."

He says Bromwich made a conscious decision to get his body weight on the ground and use that to stop Ikuvalu's momentum.

Ghabar describes this an "awkward" position that "probably happens 100 times a game. "The fact the player reacted to the awkward position is not relevant."

5.30pm: NRL counsel McGrath: "[Bromwich] does a swivel, he swings around, swings his hips around and brings them into contact with the player Ikuvalu, in fact trapping his ankle underneath them". McGrath points to the danger this poses and fact Ikuvalu gets up gingerly from the tackle.

"You can see the potential for serious injury there... it really is an unacceptable risk of injury."

This is the basis of McGrath's argument - Bromwich acted carelessly and "didn't take the safe choice" in making his tackle.

5.24pm: McGrath explaining that Ikuvalu "was in a vulnerable position... he was vulnerable to the pressure being put on his ankle". Also cites the NRL memo sent out to clubs last month regarding 'hip drop' tackles - he submits Bromwich's tackle as a "textbook" example of such a tackle and the danger it can pose.

5.19pm: McGrath calling up more video angles to make the same point about Bromwich lifting both feet of the ground to create the twisting motion. Bromwich maintaining that "I haven't jumped up off the ground ... I disagree, I drop my hips straight to the ground to get his knees together (and complete the tackle) with my right arm".

McGrath asks if there is a particular name for Bromwich's role in the tackle. "No name for that," a confused Bromwich responds.

5.14pm: Peter McGrath now beginning his cross-examination of Bromwich. "You distinctly swiveled your right hip to bring it down on the foot and ankle of the ball carrier?" "I disagree," responds Bromwich. McGrath arguing that he looked to get both his feet of the ground to create momentum in the tackle in that swiveling motion.

Bromwich says he was looking to get his own hips to the ground to pull Ikuvalu's legs to the ground and complete the tackle.

McGrath asks if there is a particular name for Bromwich's role in the tackle. "No name for that," a confused Bromwich responds.

5.06pm: Jesse Bromwich having his say on the tackle now. Bromwich says he tried to tackle both of Ikuvalu's legs together and has then attempted to get to his feet and get back into the defensive line. Under questioning by Ghabar he points out that his initial means of accessing the tackle is blocked by his teammates. Bromwich points out that his first point of contact is with Ikuvalu's back and then he drops down.

Asked why he didn't simply look to make first contact with Ikuvalu's legs, Bromwich says: "I can't. That would be a cannonball [tackle]"

4.58pm: The judiciary is almost assembled for Jesse Bromwich's hearing. Storm football director Frank Ponissi and Bromwich are dialing in from the Sunshine Coast. Nick Ghabar is representing the prop while Peter McGrath is representing the NRL. Bob Lindner, Ben Creagh and Sean Garlick are the judiciary panel members.

4.45pm: The case involving Jesse Bromwich is scheduled to start in 15 minutes. The Storm forward, and also Proctor and Fuimaono will be appearing via video link. 

Proctor is defending the biting charge made against him after he was sent from the field during Saturday's loss to the Sharks while Bromwich and Fuimaono and both hoping to beat dangerous contact charges.

Farah defends Kevin Proctor

The schedule for the hearings is:

  • 5pm - Jesse Bromwich
  • 6pm - Kevin Proctor
  • 7.30pm - Tyrell Fuimaono

Holbrook: Proctor incident won't affect his future

Refresh this page during the night for the latest updates.