Australia: Cleary avoids ban over dangerous contact

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Nathan Cleary has avoided a ban for an awkward tackle that Andrew Johns labelled "really dangerous" and left the Penrith star immediately apologetic.

Nathan Cleary has escaped an NRL ban for dangerous contact during Penrith's win over Brisbane. © Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS Nathan Cleary has escaped an NRL ban for dangerous contact during Penrith's win over Brisbane.

Cleary was on Saturday charged with grade-one dangerous contact on Billy Walters, an offence that carries a $1000 fine with an early guilty plea.

Cleary found himself in trouble when he rushed out of the line in Penrith's 40-12 win over Brisbane, tangling his legs around Walters' before bringing him to ground.

The incident drew immediate criticism, with Andrew Johns and Billy Slater both labelling it as dangerous during commentary on the Nine Network.

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Cleary showed concern as soon as he'd brought Walters to ground, confirming he had apologised straight away.

"I don't really know what happened, I haven't seen the video yet. I just said sorry to him (Walters) as soon as it happened," Cleary said.

"It just got awkward. I rushed out of the line and he was slipping out of it and I tried to take him to the ground and fell awkwardly."

Cleary was adamant the tackle had got away from him, and that it was not a hip-drop.

"I would never try and injure someone or anything like that," Cleary said.

"It definitely wasn't my intention to do so. It was just how we ended up. It all happened fast."

If Cleary had copped a grade-two charge he would have faced at least a one-game ban, ruling him out of next week's clash with Canberra.

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Instead, he is free to play.

"I think it's dangerous," Johns said in commentary.

"Like, I think it's really dangerous.

"It's not a hip-drop and they have so many different terminologies for different wrestling moves but that is dangerous."

The tackle was the only blemish on Cleary's best game since his off-season shoulder surgery, as he kicked brilliantly and set up three tries.

The performance came just days after he and father Ivan signed new five-year deals at the club, with the coach claiming his No.7's match fitness and involvements were back.

The coach also compared the tackle to an old-school Cumberland throw, which involved using the legs to get the opponent to ground in a tackle.

"It looked a bit awkward. But sometimes that happens," Ivan said.

"You don't have to do something illegal for something to look awkward."

Brisbane lock Kobe Hetherington and Canterbury utility Brandon Wakeham were also charged out of Friday's games, with both also able to take fines.

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