Sharks star hits back at ‘coward punch’ claims
Sharks centre Jesse Ramien has declared he has "never been a dirty player" as he prepares to make his return from a three-game ban.
Ramien created headlines when he was sin-binned and suspended for a high tackle on St George Illawarra fullback Matt Dufty.
The Cronulla centre scoffed at suggestions the tackle was akin to a 'coward punch' and defended himself against claims he should be rubbed out of the game long-term.
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"It was nothing like a coward punch," Ramien said.
"A coward punch speaks for itself, it's a cowardly act. What I did wasn't something that was intentional. To label it something like that was unfair.
"It was an accident. I've never purposely tried to hurt someone. I've never been a dirty player.
"We play a contact sport. Everyone who goes out, goes out to play physical. I've never done anything like that or been charged for anything like that.
"I got pumped a bit in the headlines. I'm not a dirty player by any means."
Ramien checked on Dufty's welfare shortly after the round one incident and again at full-time. It was the first time he can recall being sin-binned and he had only been charged once before by the NRL's match review committee in his six-year career - a grapple tackle during last year's All-Stars match which he escaped suspension with an early guilty plea.
"I came in to make a tackle and to get him hard but in no means did I mean to do what I did," Ramien said. "I didn't mean to get him around the head.
"When he went off I made sure Matt was all right and I apologised after the game, I said 'sorry bra, I didn't mean it'.
"The doctors making comments on it, I understand where they are coming from but they need to understand where I am coming from. By no means did I mean to make contact with the head. No one means to do it.
"I'm not going to do anything different. I've never been charged like that before. I will continue to play the way I play. Nothing is going to change for me.
"I have to get over it and look forward to getting back out there."
Ramien said it has been frustrating watching from the sidelines especially during Cronulla's round two loss to Parramatta where they were whacked with a huge casualty ward.
He will make his return for the Sharks against the Roosters on Saturday where he will line-up against former teammate Josh Morris.
"It's been a long few weeks," Ramien said.
"I've been thinking about it each week but I'm finally back. I'm keen for this week. When stuff like this happens, it's best to keep your head down and let your footy do the talking.
"It's going to be an unreal challenge (against Morris). To see what he and his brother are doing is unbelievable - he is still one of if not the best centre in the game."
Originally published as Sharks star hits back at 'coward punch' claims