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Blues rookie five-eighth cleared to play Origin after scuffle that left player unconscious

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Canterbury five-eighth Matt Burton is free to line up for NSW in State of Origin II after being cleared by the match review committee following the Bulldogs’ 36-12 win over Wests Tigers.


In the opening minute of Sunday’s game at CommBank Stadium, Tigers prop Alex Twal attempted to tackle Burton as he kicked but the pair became entangled and Burton appeared to force his hand into Twal’s neck.

Twal hit the ground forcefully, losing consciousness, and needed to leave the field in a medi-cab. He watched the remainder of the match from the sidelines.


The NRL match review committee released its charges on Monday morning and Burton was neither fined nor suspended, so is free to make his Origin debut in Perth on June 26.

The NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley said the match review committee examined Burton’s clash with Twal, which they deemed to be “a strange type of incident”.

“Both players had hold of each other and as they fell to the ground, they fell awkwardly,” Annesley said.


“The match review committee reviewed it but they felt it was incidental and accidental, as opposed to anything that was deliberate or dangerous by players being careless.

“They decided no further action was required.”

Burton’s inclusion was one of seven changes Brad Fittler made to his squad after NSW’s 16-10 loss in game one.

Burton has played at five-eighth all season but is set to slot in at centre, where he played for Penrith in their 2021 premiership victory.


“When Freddy told me, I was in shock. I can’t wait,” Burton said after the Bulldogs’ win.

“I never would have thought I’d get the chance to play in the (NSW) side so I’m just super grateful.”

Canberra back-rower Elliott Whitehead and Tigers winger David Nofoaluma have both been charged with grade one dangerous contact by the match review committee but both will escape with fines regardless of their pleas.

Nofoaluma kicked Burton in the face while getting up to play the ball in the Bulldogs’ win and has been fined $750, but risks losing $1000 by challenging the charge and losing at the judiciary.

Whitehead tackled Newcastle captain Kalyn Ponga off the ball in the Raiders’ win and must pay $1000, or $1500 if he unsuccessfully pleads his case.


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