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Graham cops 12-match ban for bite in NRL
By Russell Jackson
22:54 AEST Thu Oct 4 2012
  Have your say on James Graham's ban.

Canterbury prop James Graham has been handed a record 12-match suspension at the NRL judiciary for biting Melbourne's Billy Slater to give the Englishman the ignominy of copping the longest ban for the offence in Australian rugby league history.

The previous longest suspension for biting was eight weeks, which were handed out to Canterbury players Brad Morrin in 2007 and Jarrod McCracken in 1991.

Gold Coast's William Zillman copped four weeks for biting South Sydney's Jamie Simpson in 2009, while Morrin was sidelined after trying to take a chunk out of Parramatta's Timana Tahu arm in 2007.

The three-man panel of Michael Buettner, Mal Cochrane and Royce Ayliffe on Thursday night ruled that Graham bit Slater on the left ear during a brawl which spilled over the sideline in last Sunday's grand final at ANZ Stadium.

A spokesman for the NRL said it was yet to be determined if the suspension would include two upcoming Tests for England against Wales and France and two trials games ahead of the 2013 season.

Bulldogs chief executive Todd Greenberg read from a statement after the hearing.

"We're extremely disappointed with the result. We simply went into tonight's hearing and spoke the truth. No spin, no angle, no secret, no early guilty plea for a reduction, we simply relied on the truth," he said.

In a tense hearing, Graham, who was flanked by barrister Nick Ghabar and coach Des Hasler, maintained his innocence when questioned by NRL prosecutor Peter Kite, who accused the prop of chomping down on Slater's ear time and again.

"I've played over 250 games (first grade in England and Australia) ... I've never bitten anybody," Graham said.

"One hundred per cent I did not (bite). In any of the pics I can't see teeth marks. I did not come down on Billy Slater's ear.

"I consider myself an honest person and I did not deliberately or accidentally bite him."

Kite replied: "Your head turns to the right then I suggest to you, you bit his (Slater's) ear."

But Graham maintained his mouth was open because he was yelling at Slater and that he did not bite down on Slater's ear and left the star bleeding.

"Last time I took a bite out of something I did it with my mouth closed," Graham said.

The panel were shown several angles of the incident with Ghabar saying there was no clear evidence of Graham's teeth being clinched on Slater.

Ghabar also suggested the wound to Slater's ear could have been caused by David Stagg when he grabbed Slater around the head during the fight in the 25th minute before Graham charged into the melee.

The defence also used a statement from Dr Amir Ibrahim, who claimed Slater's ear didn't have the usual pattern of damage for being bitten.

Ghabar also showed the panel two incidents from earlier in the season where Graham was involved in scuffles with South Sydney's Sam Burgess and Manly's Jason King.

The footage aimed to demonstrate the Englishman has a particular style of getting close to opponents when he's in a tussle with an opponent.

They also called in Daniel Anderson, Graham's former coach at St Helens between 2005-2008, as a character witness for the Englishman.

Did James Graham deserve a 12-match ban?

User comments
Graham got what he deserved, what a coward. But really you cant blame him there seems to be a bad culture at the dogs hence their name. If its not biting, its abusing women, didnt hear about any storm players losing it on mad monday. The better team (it more ways thane one) won the grand final. Bring on next season
Please, be real. Why would Billy say his ear was bitten if it wasn't bitten. Of course he was bitten by Graham, or else Graham was merely whispering 'sweet nothings' in Billy's ear. Yes, Rugby League is a tough game, as it should be, but biting is a cowardly and disgraceful act. Its surprising that Bulldogs management make fools of themselves to infer Slater is a liar by saying that Graham is not a biter in his 250 games. Guess, we are talking about this game, a Grand Final, and he bit another player's ear.
Graham the *** stop blowing goose down. Take the punishment like a dog. Thats why you play for the dogs. Time to wake up people and start to play physical contact sport with a touch of humanity. Shame on anyone who supports such a puppet
The "Defence' of the biter by the head of the dogs, gives a true insight into the thinking ( narrow) of the people from sydney who have N.F.I !!!! Try and grow the game you ***........
NRL prosecutor Peter Kite, who accused the prop of chomping down on Slater's ear time and again. If that is the case they must have had better footage of the incident than we have been privy to. Slater's ear would have looked like a partially devoured Yorkshire Pudding. Theatre.
"Billy the kick" is renown for his knees and feet first sliding tackle when he is beaten by a supperior attacking player and gets away with it 90 percent of the time.that wasnt a bite mark on his ear it was a scratch mark.Its about time that the Storm came clean on more than just salary cap crap. Harden up boys and girls this is footy not Ping Pong.James Graham is not a biter,but whatch him chew his way through the Storm next year.Go the Doggies.
12 weeks sounds great i play full contact sport and that dog should have got more .. his mommy should have fed him in the morning before letting him out of the gate the least go to maccas on the way to the game and feed yourself..
Send them all back to work like real players did, they live far from reality and don't deserve the attention they get
Im a Avid Doggies supporter- if Graham did bite Billy's ear then he should cop the suspension but if he didnt then Billy is a tool, cos during his career he was got alot of knocks and bruises... the truth will prevail
What a load of rubbish give the guy a break it was a grand final game and its bound to get dirty, looking at the replays there was no biting incident .Why dont they get Slater on the stand and check his ear for bite marks this 12 week suspension is ridiculous.If anything the refs should be under fire for all their stupid decisions NRL time to sack all refs and start again.

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