Paul Kent has blasted the decision from the NRL to hand down a one week suspension to Ricky Stuart for his infamous spray of Panthers playmaker Jaeman Salmon.
Stuart is banned from all duties with the Raiders team for a period of one week and was hit with a $25,0000 fine for calling Salmon a “weak-gutted dog”.
“Is this sufficient or over the top?” Braith Anasta asked on NRL 360.
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“It says that the NRL are just trying to set an example here because he is actually the first coach to be suspended.”
Kent believes the NRL have been looking to set an example for coaches criticising officials and chose to make Stuart the test case after his unique outburst at a player over personal history.
“I don’t agree with it,” Kent said.
“I think the NRL have been looking to suspend a coach and they engineered backwards on this one.
“I think they went backwards from OK this is an opportunity to do it, so let’s apply it.
“I had a vigorous conversation today with Andrew Abdo. I understand where he is coming from. I don’t agree with it and he doesn’t agree where I’m coming from.
“His reason was because the comment was made in a public forum, which was an unacceptable comment.”
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Kent took aim at the over the top reactions from nameless people on radio who were calling for Stuart to be banned for the rest of the season.
“Those idiots on radio who don’t even use their own names and sit there and say he should get the rest of the season, piss off,” Kent said.
“Who cares what they think. There is too many people who I don’t think are invested enough in the game. They just have these off the cuff comments.
“Ricky Stuart said the wrong thing. He acknowledged that almost immediately.
“I have not defended once the fact that he said it where he said it. I understand the reasons he did and I still believe if the reasons ever came out then people and public opinion would swiftly turn in his favour.
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“I spoke to Abdo about that today and he said, we could not find corroborating evidence about that.
“I said, well you have given yourself what? You started the investigation yesterday and you have closed it today, so you haven’t really had a real crack at finding corroborating evidence. But I’ll accept that.
“I just don’t believe this was worthy of a one-game suspension when we know for a fact that they have been angling to do this for some time to find the coach to do it to.”
The Daily Telegraph’s Dave Riccio revealed the NRL had another coach in their sights to ban, before Stuart was the first to be made an example of.
“The NRL have been considering going down this path for some time with coaches who have a history of being fined for post match comments,” Riccio said.
“They know that the fine system isn’t having an impact.
“I know of a situation where the NRL were considering hitting another coach with a game ban. A separate coach to Ricky.”
Kent believes there is no consistency and link between the Stuart ban and coaches criticising referees after matches.
“The NRL have had this suspension system, that they have now implemented, in place to apply to coaches because they don’t believe coaches are getting the lesson about criticising generally referees after the game,” Kent said.
“Then on the other hand we have got this incident, which is such a one-off and so out of context with anything that has ever happened in the game.
“It is the first time it has happened and I think if you treated it as a once in a lifetime thing where you say, you have really stuffed up here and shouldn’t have done it therefore you are going to be fined for it and that’s it. I think it would rest there.
“But they have managed to take the bit out of this that they want to apply and the bit out of that they want to apply and they have put it all in there and ignored the overall picture.
“There is no consistency between saying, Ricky you said the wrong thing here and it is extremely out of left field what you have done, but by the same token you blokes aren’t copping the tip so we are going to sit down and apply what we apply to every other coach. There is no consistency there.”
Riccio believes the ban on Stuart from not even being involved with the club in any way for a whole week is harsh, given what players cop for indiscretions.
“I think it is tough, Riccio said.
“If we look at it from the aspect of a player when they get suspended they miss the game.
“The best part of the week for a coach is game day and coaching the game. When a player gets suspended they don’t miss training. They are still allowed to be part of the group.
“It is hugely significant. It shouldn’t be underestimated how big this is because he can’t do anything whatsoever.
“He has basically been deregistered for one week. I would be happy for him to miss the game not the entire preparation. I think it is harsh because take away what hurts him most and that is game day. That is coaching.”
However, Paul Crawley believes the NRL had no choice but to give Stuart a suspension given the nature of his comments directed at a player and thinks it is a fair result, but defended the circumstances surrounding the mistake from the Raiders coach.
“I think the NRL had no choice but to hand down a match suspension,” Crawley said.
“There were calls for Ricky to be stood down for the remainder of the season and that was just outrageous and ridiculous.
“I think one game is about as fair as it could have been. There is no doubt in the world Ricky has shown remorse for his comments and the club have backed the NRL to make whatever decision they have made and Ricky will learn from it.
“But at the end of the day Ricky is Ricky and coaches make mistakes.
“They are forced to go to these press conferences and forced to front up when they are at their emotional best.
“He got through that entire press conference and he got to the last question and the name was brought up and that’s what he reacted to and if people understand that they may understand the reason he did it.”