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No Cleary malice as Penrith wait on charge

Penrith star Nathan Cleary has admitted he immediately felt bad about his awkward tackle on Billy Walters but insisted there was no malice after being put on report.

The Panthers will sweat on the judiciary charge sheet on Saturday morning, after Cleary was placed on report for dangerous contact in the 40-12 win over Brisbane.

Rushing out of his own line, Cleary became entangled with Walters as he tackled him and wrapped his legs around the Broncos playmaker to bring him to the ground.

The incident drew immediate criticism, with Andrew Johns and Billy Slater both labelling it as dangerous in Nine’s commentary and Billy Slater noting that Cleary was lucky Walters was not injured.

The man himself also looked concerned as soon as he’d brought Walters to ground, confirming he had apologised straight away.

“I felt bad with that one,” Cleary said.

“I don’t really know what happened, I haven’t seen the video yet. I just said sorry to him as soon as it happened.

“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.

“I definitely don’t want to miss any games. But it’s out of my hands, just hoping we get a good result.”

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 is charged, a grade-one offence would only result in a fine while a grade-two would mean he only misses next week’s clash with Canberra with an early plea.

“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.”

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