On Tuesday James McDonnell won his appeal against his two match ban for punching against St Helens.
The minutes from the appeal have been published by the RFL in which it was confirmed that McDonnell did admit to some wrong doing but stated that there was no punches and that Lomax was bleeding before the incident:
“Player reacted to Lomax goading of Sam Walters. Admitted he shouldn’t have done so but there was only ever pushing and shoving with Lomax, no punch was thrown as both players had a grip of each other’s shirts.
“The blood on Lomax had come from an earlier incident and can be clearly seen on images before the alleged punch.
“Player and rep believe that the touch judge made an honest mistake.”
The panel overturned the ban due to the following reasons:
“The Panel directed ourselves in accordance with the appropriate burden and standard of proof namely that the compliance manager bears the burden of proof and has to establish that the misconduct has occurred to the reasonable satisfaction of the tribunal bearing in mind the seriousness of the allegation. The standard of proof is greater than a mere balance of probability but less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
“We reviewed footage including a substantial amount of footage that had not been broadcast and footage which had not been seen by the Match Review Panel.
The player together with Matt Cook took us through a detailed analysis of the footage. It showed beyond doubt that Johnny Lomax was injured and bleeding heavily before the incident involving James McDonnell.
“No punch can be seen on the footage and it was conceded by the Compliance Manager on behalf of the Match review panel that the footage was inconclusive. We were able to view the incident from a number of angles and di not see a punch thrown. We accept entirely that the touch judge was genuinely certain that at the time he saw a punch. However he was not able to point out the punch on the footage. We cannot rule out the fact that he may have been genuinely mistaken and therefore cannot be satisfied to the appropriate standard that a punch was thrown and we allow the appeal.”