ENGLAND winger Jermaine McGillvary revealed thinking he was being choked by Lebanon captain Robbie Farah as he successfully defended an allegation of biting.
The Huddersfield Giants star was facing a ban of up to 12 weeks had he been found guilty of a charge of contrary conduct during last week’s World Cup game.
However, he was completely exonerated at a disciplinary hearing, which was held via video link from Sydney, and is now free to play in his country’s final group match against France in Perth on Sunday.
It ends a stressful time for McGillvary who had come under immense scrutiny in the days after the incident even though most people thought he did not even have a case to answer.
Indeed, although the evidence took more than an hour to present, the judiciary took just three minutes to decide the 29-year-old was not guilty, illustrating how obvious it was the highly-respected player had not fouled in any way.
Furthermore, ex-Australia hooker Farah – who made the complaint after tackling McGillvary early in the second half – did not actually attend the hearing or offer evidence.
“I fully understand the Match Review process and am grateful for a fair and balanced hearing,” said McGillvary, who sat alongside England head coach Wayne Bennett and team manager Jamie Peacock having entered a not guilty plea via video link from the team hotel in Perth.
“I’m pleased this is over and can now fully focus on doing my best for England for the remainder of the World Cup.
“I’ve played over 200 games. I’ve been high tackled but never grapple-tackled like this.
“I’ve never felt so uncomfortable. It (Farah’s forearm) was pushing on my face very hard. I felt like I was about to choke.
“As I went to floor, it got worse. Not once did I shut my mouth. Not once when he put his arm into my mouth did I close my mouth.
“It’s outrageous. I’ve been a pro’ for 10 years and I’ve got an outstanding disciplinary record.
“I’ve never been charged with anything like this. I’m not that sort of player. I’ve never bit someone and I never will. I didn’t bite him.”
Meanwhile, England colleague Sam Burgess took to Twitter yesterday to call out Rob Andrew after he yet again claimed the Yorkshireman was a major reason behind England’s doomed 2015 rugby union World Cup effort.
In Andrew’s recently published book, the inclusion by then head coach Stuart Lancaster of Burgess – who had not played rugby union before joining Bath in 2014 – was cited as a big factor in their embarrassing failure to escape the pool stages.
But Andrew, who was RFU professional rugby director at the time, trotted out the same line again to the BBC yesterday even though the consensus of opinion is that the former Bradford Bulls star was actually one of England’s better players.
Indeed, they were actually ahead and in control when Burgess – who had kept British Lion centre Jamie Roberts so quiet – was replaced in the infamous game against Wales, only for the hosts to suffer a humiliating collapse.
South Sydney’s Burgess – back in training after a knee injury suffered in England’s World Cup opener against Australia – Tweeted: “I think Rob Andrew should pick up the phone and call me.
“It’s a little bit embarrassing for Rob. Good luck to him.”
Burgess – who swiftly returned to rugby league after that World Cup debacle – received plenty of support on social media, not least from Australia legend Matt Giteau, the ex-Wallabies centre who made 103 Test appearances.
He Tweeted: “Mate you were a challenge for me at that World Cup. A lot of review time spent on u. He (Andrew) is off the mark by a long way.”
Andrew, who is now chief executive at Sussex County Cricket Club, told the BBC: “Head coaches get judged on their results and they have to make decisions around selection and Sam Burgess was a massive decision.
“And it’s not just blaming Sam, it wasn’t Sam’s fault that he was picked to play for England.
“But it changed the dynamic of that squad going into a World Cup and head coaches live or die by the decisions they take – and we didn’t get out of our group in a home World Cup.
“It was a massive risk, a massive decision Stuart [Lancaster] took and it didn’t pay off. He did such a lot of good work and then a few decisions – and in the biggest tournament in our sport – went wrong in a home World Cup.”
Elsewhere, Burgess’s former Bradford team-mate Glenn Morrison has left the backroom staff at Hull KR to undertake a teaching role overseas.
The ex-Dewsbury Rams coach was recruited by KR chief Tim Sheens midway through 2017. He worked alongside former Wakefield Trinity coach James Webster and David Hodgson.
Huddersfield Giants’ young half-back Izaac Farrell has signed for Batley Bulldogs on loan for the 2018 season.
The RFL’s head of performance Richard Hunwicks, formerly of Leeds Rhinos, will join Catalans after England’s World Cup.