Matai, Des under review

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Kiwi Eagle

Staff member
Give Matai a chance: Cleal

By David Riccio

July 22, 2007 12:00am

MANLY legend Noel ''Crusher'' Cleal has called for referees not to target Steve Matai, fearing the Kiwi international could be run out of the game.

Cleal chose to defend the Sea Eagles centre yesterday after another on-field incident that is set to come under NRL scrutiny.

Matai was penalised by referee Shayne Hayne for an alleged grapple tackle on rookie Sharks prop Eddie Su'a during Manly's 29-22 win on Friday night.

The incident occurred just 48 hours after the controversial Manly centre escaped a head-butt charge on Wests Tigers forward Chris Heighington.

Concerned by the attention Matai is attracting on and off the field, Cleal stood firm behind the robust New Zealander yesterday.

"He's a player that every team needs and his team-mates love playing with,'' Cleal said.

"He's an aggressive player and sadly that's being sanitised out of the game. As long as it's controlled aggression, I don't see a problem with it.

"I just hope the referees don't isolate him now, because they do look for certain players."

Matai's latest incident comes just a week after league management fired off a stern edict to coaches and players warning a return of the grapple tackle would not be tolerated.

NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley confirmed that Matai's latest indiscretion would be viewed by match review officials.

"From what I could gather watching the game, I believe he was penalised for a grapple tackle,'' Annesley said.

"That's what we warned the clubs about a couple of weeks ago when we said the referees would remain vigilant against that sort of stuff. Like everything else from games, whether or not it goes further is a matter for the match review committee.''

Cleal claimed Manly coach Des Hasler should also refrain from advising Matai to change his confrontational playing style.

"I wouldn't think Des would do that and he shouldn't, either,'' Cleal said. "Sure (Matia) flies close to the wind but I think taking that away from him would be be detrimental to his game.

"I spoke to Paul Gallen at the game on Friday night and told him the same thing - which I'm sure Ricky (Stuart) has, too - and that is continue with the style you've been born to play.''

Hasler is expected to escape a $10,000 fine after he jokingly called for a cement mixer to deal with referee Hayne.

"I think Des said that tongue in cheek and everything else he said about the refereeing performance, about the ruck penalties, he was within his rights to do so,'' Annesley said.

However, Hasler confirmed he would be meeting with referees boss Robert Finch this week.

"I don't think he had a good game,'' Hasler said of Hayne.

"His handling of the ruck was very poor. It's something I'm sure Robert Finch and Bill Harrigan can work on with me.

"There's a bit more to chat about with them this week than other weeks.''


That grapple bull**** was Afamasaga wasn't it ?

Matais only penalties i remember were that offside, which i thought was wrong, and the kickoff


Reserve Grader
so does this mean they will scrutinise every ****en grapple tackle that is made from now till season end or just the ones made by manly players... unbelievable!

Just on that Matai penalty for offside, was he offside? I was waiting for a replay but they never showed one. Surely if Matai is going to make a hit like he did, he would have made sure he was on side wouldn't he?


The grapple tackle was Jack A, not Matai!
I have noticed on most of the Manly televised games that they don't replay incidents to support Manly but they do show replays to have a go at them. So sick of the anti-Manly bias shown by all the tools on Friday Night Football.....

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