Blood, spit and tears: Think back to the opening round of this years NRL competition. Do you remember Warriors player Nathan Fien with blood soaked bandages encircling his head packing into a scrum against Manly. Can you remember the Manly front row baulking at coming into contact with this monstrosity? The Manly captain was pleading with the referee to evict the wounded player from play so that the danger of infection to his players was minimised. Do you remember how much the referee did about it? Who was the player that had to have blood tests in the following week to ascertain whether hed contracted a potentially fatal disease? For the last three months Shane Dunley has had to wait on tenterhooks for his results, his life potentially hanging by a thread because of a referees inaction. Shane Dunley is in the news this week for a very different reason - a grade five contrary conduct charge for allegedly spitting on Parramatta player Marsh. The contrary conduct charge is largely enacted when it is perceived that the game has been bought into disrepute. How many mothers of small boys yanked their kids out of junior competitions after the grisly spectacle of a blood smeared ghoul parading around a field in Round One? Did Sean Hampstead face a charge of contrary conduct because his inability to be decisive bought the game into disrepute and risked the lives of players? Our civilisation is founded upon a legal system that enshrines the judicial principle of innocent until proven guilty. Dunley fronts the judiciary guilty until proven innocent. The evidence looks as though it could be inconclusive or, at worst, open to interpretation and subjectivity. No doubt Dunley spits but the cameras dont seem to show if theres a point of contact with Marsh. In a court of law it would be up to the judiciary to show that the spit was directed at the player and/or that it actually hit Marsh. Dunley walks into the judiciary needing to change their already formed opinion that the spit was directed at the player and/or that it hit Marsh. This situation is magnified by the added penalty that contesting the charge and failing means an additional two week sentence. Lets put the incident in its correct context. Dunley sat on the sideline for the first twenty minutes of a high stakes game, heart rate elevated and adrenalin coursing through his veins. He takes the field in a spiteful encounter where opposing players are taunting and needling his own team mates. The official NRL pre-match program has built up the Parramatta versus Manly rivalry on the field all week and the players are caught up in the drama. He spends the next 15 minutes running around at a hectic pace. I highlight this because I want to freeze in on the moment of the expectoration. Dunley is wearing a mouthguard and is no doubt de-hydrated. No doubt that Dunleys mouth would be dry, his mouthguard like a log in his mouth and his saliva like glue. Without labouring the point, you can see from the repeated slow motion replays of the incident that the spit virtually drops from Dunleys mouth and strings of saliva suspend it in mid-air for a millisecond. There are two points that need to be made: 1. I contend that NRL players would know what the roof of their mouth feels like in the 37th minute of an NRL game and would probably have some sympathy for Dunleys need to spit to refresh his mouth, and would also recognise that the gummy saliva could lead to a certain lack of control. 2. There is a heated atmosphere on the field and in this climate players can tend to walk a fine line. Dunley may well have spat near Marsh to unsettle him just as Mark Riddell was on a mission to unsettle Michael Witt. The issue is did Dunley deliberately spit ON Marsh and can this be proven beyond reasonable doubt? The judiciary says yes, unless compelling evidence to the contrary can be produced. In a court of law one wonders whether the prosecutor would be able to make the charge stick, especially given some of the context mentioned above. Somehow I think its unlikely on the evidence that Ive seen. Therefore, are the judicial proceedings little more than a kangaroo court for an organisation that is a master of the double standard, with Dunley a particularly compelling victim?