NRL’s fierce defense of record sin-bin frenzy

The NRL has launched a resolute defense of the extreme use of the sin bin during Sunday’s elimination final between the Roosters and Rabbitohs.

The Allianz Stadium clash, won 30-14 by the Rabbitohs, featured a record seven sin-bins.

The Roosters’ Victor Radley was sin-binned for punching and again for racing in to join a melee, while teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was ordered off for what Andrew Johns described as a “head slam”.

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The Rabbitohs’ Taane Milne was sin-binned twice for high contact, teammate Tom Burgess was given his marching orders for a high shot and Tevita Tatola was sin-binned for a head push.

Darren Lockyer and Brad Fittler were among those critical of the officiating.

“I think this should be refereed a bit like an Origin. (Give the players) a bit of leeway,” Lockyer said.

“It was quite obvious early on how this game was going to be played, and the referees needed to have a cool head about it,” Fittler added.

But when NRL head of football Graham Annesley was asked why so many sin-bins were enforced, he attributed it to “a lack of discipline by the players”.

“The match officials react to what happens,” Annesley said.

“We certainly don’t go out in any game with the instructions to match officials that they should be dismissing players from the field, whether it be a temporary period of 10 minutes in the sin bin or whether it be for the remainder of the match .

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“Our objective is to keep everybody on the field. But that’s not in the hands of the match officials; that’s in the hands of the players and how they approach the game.

“We saw a whole range of incidents that took place where the players took those decisions, frankly, out of the hands of the referees and the Bunker. It was disappointing that we saw as many incidents in the game as we did.

“It was a very intense, physical game, there was a lot of emotion in it. And all of that is fine, that’s 100 per cent fine. We don’t have a problem with any of that. That’s the nature of our game . It’s very physical, it’s very intense, it’s very emotional. But players know where that line in the sand is about compliance with the rules … and what’s acceptable and what’s not … on multiple occasions they crossed that line.”

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Ashley Klein refereed the match, Kasey Badger and David Munro were the touch judges, and Grant Atkins was the Bunker official.

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“That’s not the fault of the referee, it’s not the fault of the Bunker, nor the touch judges; that’s the actions of the players,” Annesley added.

“That’s not an acceptable way to play the game on some of those occasions.

“These incidents that took place unfortunately marred the spectacle and brought the referees into the game where there was no need for the referees to be brought into the game.”

When asked if he thought the officials lost control of the game, Annesley remained defiant.

“No, I don’t,” he said.

“In fact, I commend them for staying the course.

“There would be occasions in the past where some might have expected the referees to say, ‘Gee, I can’t put any more players in the bin’, and wear the referee down, so to speak.

“But we’ve worked very hard, too, on consistency with the referees, and they know what’s acceptable and not acceptable in the game.”

Two binned as Roosters, Rabbitohs clash

Annesley said the NRL had had no correspondence with clubs regarding foul play ahead of the first weekend of the finals.

He also denied the Roosters-Rabbitohs clash was the result of a ‘crackdown’, like the one employed in last season’s Magic Round.

“The strongest memo that the NRL sent to the clubs was seven players sent to the sin bin and multiple charges,” Annesley said.

“Everyone knows that some of the incidents that took place were over the top. So, we don’t need to tell either of the two clubs that; they know that.”

The second weekend of the finals will see the Eels face the Raiders at CommBank Stadium on Friday night, before the Sharks meet the Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

Top-four teams Penrith and North Queensland won on the opening weekend to advance to the preliminary finals.

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