Controversy as ‘bloodied’ Cleary stays on field

Rugby league fans were left scratching their heads during tonight’s Origin series-opener after NSW halfback Nathan Cleary remained on the field for much of the first half despite having blood pouring from his cheek.

Cleary copped an accidental elbow from teammate Tom Trbojevic in the opening minutes, which left the halfback with a nasty gash underneath his right eye.

The 23-year-old was attended to by trainers who momentarily stopped the flow of blood but the patch-up job was only effective for a few minutes.

Yet it wasn’t until the 36th minute that referee Gerard Sutton stopped play to send Cleary from the field, at which point Jack Wighton was called upon to replace the No.7 for the remainder of the half.

Cleary returned for the start of the second half, but even in the few minutes he was away from the field the match swung away from the Blues, with Latrell Mitchell kicking the ball out on the full from a kick-off, which would otherwise have been taken by his halfback.

However, before he was sent from the field, Cleary’s bleeding face came to the attention of viewers who flocked to Twitter to voice their outrage at the lack of duty of care shown, with former Perth Wildcats championship coach Brendan Joyce leading the outcry.

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