NRL 2020: Kevin Proctor ‘bite’ defence broken down by journalists

The NRL’s biting scandal may have divided the footy world but several journalists, pundits and past and present players believe Titans captain Kevin Proctor may be found not guilty.

The New Zealand star has protested his innocence from the moment the incident happen and has said he would “fight to the death to clear my name”.

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And The Australian’s Brent Read told NRL Tonight he believes Proctor could get off at the judiciary with several key elements in the Titans skipper’s favour.

While his defence team chased up Shaun Johnson to testify after the heated scenes on the field, but on NRL 360, the reports came that he was not going to be part of the defence.

It’s something that Read believes is potentially a good sign.

“If he does (provide a statement on behalf of Kevin Proctor) he will need to make himself available to the hearing so that he can be cross-examined by the prosecution and no doubt they’ll ask him about his reaction on the field,” Read said.

“I almost think it’s better if Shaun Johnson doesn’t appear because after the game Shaun Johnson said words to the effect of ‘what happens on the field, should stay on the field’. If I’m the prosecution, that erodes his credibility straight away because he obviously doesn’t want to carry on. I actually think it hurts Kevin Proctor’s case if Shaun Johnson is there.”

Part of the issue comes from photos of Johnson’s arm, but Read doesn’t agree the marks on the arm definitely happened in that issue.

Shaun Johnson’s arm after the incident.Source:News Corp Australia

“It’s interesting you bring up the marks on the arm, the photos that appeared in the paper on the weekend, I believe that was taken off the television coverage,” Read said.

“Johnson didn’t want photos taken of his arm after the game on the weekend so they’ve got no photographic evidence. Kevin Proctor’s legal team will argue there’s no proof that came from a bite, that it could have happened in a tackle previously.

“The referees report notes that there’s no teeth marks, now he had a mouth guard, but that’s going to be part of their case as well. I think the reaction on the field and the comments that’s mainly what the prosecution will rely on, that and the video evidence plays its part. But because there’s no photographic evidence and if Shaun Johnson doesn’t want to provide evidence either way, I think it’s going to hard to prosecute Kevin Proctor.”

Read said he thought Proctor “is a hope” having originally believed he was able to get off.

Fox League commentator Dan Ginnane said it was clear the arm was in the mouth but wasn’t quite sure.

“I he’s a very good chance as well or at least getting a very minor punishment, it turns the attention to the bunker,” Ginanne said.

Former Queensland great Corey Parker joined NRL Tonight as well and had his say on the Proctor case.

“Was there an arm in his mouth, yes there was, was he placed in an uncomfortable position from an attacking point of view, yes he was. Do I think he bit him? No I don’t,” Parker said.

“You slow everything down, it gives you a different perspective and a different picture. These guys are good mates and rep teammates, I just don’t see or have I seen over his career something that would intimate that. But the pictures don’t lie but when you slow it all down, you know what it looks like.

The moment Kevin Proctor allegedly bites the arm of Shaun Johnson.Source:FOX SPORTS

“He’ll go to the judiciary and plead his case, but should he have been sent off? I don’t think so. Considering some of the things we see in our game taht aren’t sent off or aren’t even referred to the judiciary and then at a later point they do, there’s a real inconsistency. However the last bite I think was James Graham and if that’s the case, he’s looking at 13 weeks. Now 13 weeks for that is mind blowing.”

On NRL 360, Daily Telegraph reporter Paul Kent was in the no bite side.

“When I initially saw it I thought he bit him because the first thing I saw was the still, but I have no doubt his mouth was open but at no point do you see a biting action,” Kent said.

With a replay in the background, The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield said, “What’s that?”

It’s just a sign of how divided the camps are over the incident with legends, pundits and fans from across the league having their say.

Rothfield said the referees evidence will be one of the more interesting elements of the hearing including the questions like “Why he pulled the game up, the message he got from the bunker” as well as an initial examination by referee Henry Perenara.

“I think Shaun Johnson has been bitten but I think as soon as Shaun Johnson realised who it was and ‘it’s a Kiwi teammate of mine, I’m going to drop off. I don’t want a penalty, I’m going to let it run’,” Rothfield said.

Henry Perenara will be a key witness.Source:News Corp Australia

Kent said he believes the strength of the argument may make the difference.

The discussion has divided the NRL with Kent defending Gorden Tallis’ comments that “I would have bit it harder”.

Tallis was on Triple M’s Sunday Sin Bin and shared a time he bit a player on the field.

“I got grabbed in a headlock back in 1995 by Darren Britt and we called him ‘Biter Britt’ after that,” Tallis said.

“I bit his arm and I tried to bite it off because he had me in a headlock. So I’m watching that footage and when he has put his hand across his face and he is trying to twist your head.

“I have had neck surgery and I would have bit it harder. I know it sounds bad, but I’m over players when you are on the ground and your arms are there and are pinned and someone gets your neck and starts twisting it.”

Proctor and Johnson spoke after the game.Source:News Corp Australia

Rothfield said the message was wrong from Tallis as he attended junior football and overheard young players talking about the comments “as though it was acceptable”.

Kent replied: “I think it is acceptable. Because there are things that shouldn’t go near your mouth. Fingers that find their way into your mouth deserve to be bitten.

“Have you ever been fish-hooked? Someone sticks their fingers in your mouth they deserve to be bitten. If you’re caught in a tackle and they decide to twist your head, what option have you got to defend yourself? If someone’s locked your arms up with the ball and another one’s got your head and is pulling it, and the arms across (your mouth), a little bite might make them release pressure.”

Rothfield asked how many times a round it happens with Kent hitting back that “under the rules, there should be none.”

“So maybe if we start addressing that rather than the bite, maybe we’ll get a few answers.”

Either way, this appears to be just the beginning of the debate.

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