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12 hours ago
Manly centre Steve Matai has been cleared of a headbutt by the NRL Judiciary and will play in the Sea Eagles' Friday night clash with Cronulla.
Matai was facing a two-week suspension for an alleged headbutt on Wests Tigers forward Chris Heighington last Friday but tonight successfully argued that he did not intentionally make contact with his head and he was not the aggressor in the 37th minute incident.
Matai argued his head contact with Wests Tigers forward Chris Heighington was an act of self defence and he was bracing for contact when he lowered his head and closed his eyes during the confrontation.
Represented by former Judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew QC, Matai argued he was bracing for contact when he lowered his head toward Heighington in their scuffle.
After a 40-minute hearing, the NRL Judiciary panel of Mark Coyne, Bob Lindner and Don McKinnon took about five minutes to find Matai not guilty of the contrary conduct charge.
The availability of Matai for Manly is a huge boost with fellow centre Steven Bell still trying to overcome a corked thigh for the clash.
Manly are also chasing their first win at Cronulla's Toyota Park in 21 years, attempting to end the longest losing hoodoo in the competition.