Rugby league legend Paul Gallen has branded the NRL “scared” following the referee’s decision to send off Sharks fullback Will Kennedy in the clash with the Warriors on Sunday.
Cronulla carved out a famous victory over the New Zealand outfit at Shark Park, salvaging a 29-10 win despite being one man down from the 17th minute and two men down for 10 minutes during the second half.
The send-off of Kennedy on the back of a ‘coathanger’ tackle on Warriors speedster Reece Walsh led to Gallen, rugby league guru Phil Gould and many others slamming the decision.
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Gallen and Gould both said on Nine’s 100% Footy on Monday night that although the Kennedy incident looked “spectacular”, the crime didn’t warrant a send-off.
Gallen revisited the drama surrounding Daniel Tupou on Anzac Day, which saw the Roosters winger receive neither a send-off nor a sin-bin for a high shot on Dragons flyer Mikaele Ravalawa.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley admitted the referee had made an error in not marching Tupou from the field, and the Tricolors veteran accepted a one-match ban.
Gallen said the send-off of Kennedy was a product of the Tupou non-call.
“This is the problem. They didn’t send Tupou off a couple of weeks ago, or give him 10 minutes in the sin bin, and that’s why the crackdown started again,” Gallen said, pointing to the NRL’s crackdown on high contact beginning in last season’s Magic Round.
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“They get scared… they’ve got to stop being so reactionary to the tackle.
“The Will Kennedy one looked spectacular. OK? It did. His legs were up in the air. It looked crazy. But it wasn’t a send-off.”
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The other incident in the Sharks’ game against the Warriors saw Cronulla center Jesse Ramien sin-binned in the 54th minute for a high shot on second-rower Euan Aitken.
Despite the fact the Kennedy incident copped a punishment heavier than the Ramien hit, Gallen and Gould both think the Ramien shot was worse.
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Nevertheless, Gould argued that not even the Ramien hit deserved a send-off.
“Neither of them are send-offs. In today’s game you probably give them 10 minutes as a warning,” Gould said.
“The first one looked spectacular… and sometimes you get those ones that look like a coat-hanger. No one gets hurt, there’s no one who’s really been hit in it. What I said (during Nine’s coverage of the match) was there’s no swinging arm, there’s no intent to hurt.
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“That’s where I think a send-off comes in.
“Ramien is one where he’s coming in, he’s trying to assert himself in a tackle, which is allowed in our game. The other player (Aitken) dips a little bit in the tackle and he’s just caught on the chin with his shoulder. But it’s still not a send-off offence.
“Ten minutes? I’m even funny on that.
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“I didn’t see any of them as send-off offences.”
Kennedy and Ramien were both charged with a grade-three careless high tackle.
Kennedy will miss two games if he opts for an early guilty plea, or three if he fights the charge at the judiciary and loses.
Ramien had one previous offense so will miss three games with an early guilty plea, or four with an unsuccessful challenge.
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