Video tipped to clear charged Matai
Tuesday, August 22, 2006 - 7:41 PM
Manly is confident CCTV footage will clear centre Steve Matai of any wrongdoing after the New Zealand centre was charged with assault.
Matai has been accused of headbutting a 31-year-old man at the Surf Rock Hotel at Collaroy on Sydney's northern beaches on June 10, the night after Manly's round 14 defeat of Wests Tigers.
It's alleged Matai grabbed a 31-year-old Mona Vale man by the neck as he entered the pub and head-butted him, causing a cut to his nose, facial bruising and swelling.
Matai was charged at Dee Why police station and was granted conditional police bail to appear in Manly Local Court on September 13.
The 22-year-old will defend the matter and has the backing of the Sea Eagles, who viewed the hotel's CCTV footage as part of their investigation.
"Steve's happy to defend himself against it all," manager Gavin Orr said.
"We've looked at the video and he'll be fine.
"We just want to defend it, get it over and done with and concentrate on playing footy.
"We believe the person who made the complaint was not justified in making it.
"Even the Manly club have seen that footage so we're pretty confident about it all."
Solicitor Mitchell Cavanagh confirmed his client would defend the charge.
"I can tell you that as a matter of certainty, a plea of not guilty will be entered as the matter will be defended," he said.
The assault charge couldn't have come at a worse time for Matai, who is in career-best form and likely to be part of the Kiwis' Tri-Nations defence.
He has been named to play in Friday's blockbuster against the Bulldogs.
"The club stands behind Steve Matai having conducted its own investigation immediately after the alleged incident," Manly CEO Grant Mayer said in a statement.
"The player and the club will not otherwise comment.
"We feel it is inappropriate for these issues to be trialled in the media so long as the court proceeding is outstanding."
NRL boss David Gallop said the Sea Eagles have kept him abreast of any developments regarding the case.
"Manly have kept us advised of the situation and obviously now it's initially a matter for the courts," Gallop said.
"Manly will keep us advised of any developments."