Donnelly faces judiciary


GOLD Coast officials believe they have built a strong case to exonerate Ian Donnelly and Nathan Friend at the National Rugby League (NRL) judiciary tonight.

Prop Donnelly, a former Ballina and Marist Brothers player, yesterday pleaded not guilty to a contrary conduct charge for an alleged grapple tackle on Bulldogs forward Nick Kouparitsas in the Titans' 36-12 loss at Carrara on Friday night.

Hooker Friend entered an early guilty plea on a grade three careless high tackle offence but will contest the severity of the grading.

Both players will miss Saturday night's vital clash with South Sydney at Telstra Stadium if they lose their respective fights at the judiciary.

The depleted Titans will be left with just one fit prop skipper Luke Bailey if Donnelly is found guilty of a grapple tackle.

"We wouldn't be putting a frivolous case up there because it would affect us long term," Titans managing director Michael Searle said.

"We believe we've got a bona fide case and we'll be vigorously arguing it with senior counsel Geoff Bellew."

In an encouraging sign for the Titans, desperate to snap a four-match losing streak this weekend, all six players appearing at the judiciary this year have been successful in seeking a downgraded charge or escaping punishment.

Donnelly moved to Sydney after appearing for Brothers and has played for NRL teams St George-Illawarra, Manly and the Melbourne Storm before heading to the Gold Coast earlier this season.

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