Sunday’s sin-bin-athon in the Rabbitohs’ 30-14 elimination final win over the Roosters has been labelled “rubbish” and a “bad advertisement” for the game — but it’s not the referee that’s come under fire.
There were seven sin-binnings between five players in the fiery clash — Victor Radley and Taane Milne were sent twice — in an NRL first.
Referee Ashley Klein drew the ire of rugby league fans, who believed he needed to put his whistle away.
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However, News Corp journalist Phil Rothfield put the blowtorch on the players and their lack of discipline before declaring the NRL’s “soft” judiciary process is a big factor in the reckless play.
“That game was a really, really bad advertisement for rugby league,” he said on Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.
“There were players on the football field that weren’t there to play rugby league.
“I tell you what the problem is and I’ve been banging on about it for a couple of years is that we have the world’s softest judiciary.
“So players will go out there and do these headhigh tackles, they’ll risk going to the sin bin, but they know they’ll be fine and they won’t get a decent suspension like what used to happen in the old days.
“Even sin bins now mean bugger-all. Souths were reduced to 11 players for 10 minutes and they won that section of the game six-nil.
“So until they get serious and put players out of these games for that shocking bloody head slam that (Jared) Waerea-Hargreaves did on Tom Burgess and all those high tackles, until players start getting suspended for their actions, nothing will change. The sin bin doesn’t work anymore.
“If you guys want to watch rugby league like that, go and watch UFC — it was rubbish that game.
“It was a shocking advertisement for rugby league.”
Rothfield also revealed that he spoke to the NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley, who gave Klein “a rap” for his refereeing and said “it took a referee as strong as Klein to remove seven players from the field.”
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However, fellow News Corp journalist Paul Crawley took a different approach and slammed Klein’s sin-binning spree, calling it a “lottery” after Radley was sent for 10 for a questionable punch, but Tom Burgess stayed on the field despite knocking James Tedesco out.
“That’s not a punch, that’s a bloody joke,” Crawley wrote in his column.
“How in the hell has rugby league descended into such a state that the Sydney Roosters’ Victor Radley can be sin binned for a so-called punch on South Sydney’s Taane Milne when the replay shows it is nothing more than a shove and a bit of a wrestle?
“Tom Burgess showed what a fair dinkum sin bin looks like when he cleaned up James Tedesco.
“Tedesco was ruled out for the game with the concussion. But Burgess wasn’t even sin binned.”
Rugby league great Laurie Daley also had an issue with Burgess escaping the bin for his high shot on Tedesco.
“He (the referee) done nothing. So whose fault is that? It’s the referee’s… He didn’t send (Burgess) to the bin for ruling the best player of the game out. He knocked him out, he didn’t pass his concussion test,” he said on Big Sports Breakfast.
“Yet we had people that were rubbing someone on the face and what Victor Radley did early he got 10 minutes in the bin for — why didn’t Burgess get 10 for that one?
“I just get confused with the inconsistency that happens.”
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Rothfield did however concede that Radley’s first sin bin was “a little bit of an over-reaction.”
And it was that exact moment that rugby league great Laurie Daley believes “set the standard” for the rest of the game.
“For me, the bigger issue is that we have created a rod for our own back in terms of what’s a sin bin and what’s not a sin bin,” he added.
“There were incidents in that game where we thought why are they penalised for that and why are they being sin binned for that.”
Meanwhile, Rothfield suggested that a new rule should be introduced where if a player is sin binned for a second time in a game they should just be sent off and not allowed to return, which Daley agreed with.