Ricky Stuart has dished out an extraordinary bake of “soft” Panthers players after his club’s heated scuffle with Penrith.
Stuart’s comments have re-started the debate on the no-punch rule that has outlawed any form of striking in the game since 2013.
The Raiders were issued a $10,000 breach notice after one of the club’s trainers joined a melee with opposition players, during the Panthers’ 30-10 win.
Panthers star Stephen Crichton, the man who started the skirmish, was also fined $1,350 but was free to play against the Broncos on Thursday night.
Stuart has now branded Crichton’s act of attempting to drag Raiders forward Joseph Tapine into a Penrith post-try celebration as “unnecessary and silly”.
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Crichton got up in Tapine’s grill late in the game.Source:FOX SPORTS
Stuart resolutely stands by how his club has handled the incident and has now taken a thinly veiled swipe at the Panthers and other players in the game that incite push-and-shove scuffles.
The veteran coach claims it is a blight on the game that players are able to sledge their opposition and lash out with weak shoves, knowing they face no repercussions because their opponents can’t strike back.
He said players are engaging in “silly and unnecessary” melees because they “know they’re not going to get punched in the head”.
“This jumper pulling and grabbing blokes by the back of the jumper and trying to pull them out of melees is a blight on the game,” he said during a press conference.
“It’s ugly and makes soft people very tough because you know you’re not going to get a punch in the head.
“There’s no consequences… Which is why so many people fly into it.”
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 09: Players scuffle during the round five NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at BlueBet Stadium on April 09, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Stuart said he predicted the ugly situation would flood the NRL after seeing the impact it has had on melees occurring frequently in the AFL.
The NRL in 2013 introduced the no-punch rule following Paul Gallen’s famous punch on Queensland rival Corey Parker’s chin during the 2013 State of Origin series.
“I just wish the league could do something about it and eradicate it,” he said.
“It was only four or five years ago I was saying it was ugly in Aussie Rules and now we’ve got it.”
The scuffle erupted after Charlie Staines crossed in the corner for Penrith’s fourth try of the night. In his celebrations, a fired-up Stephen Crichton grabbed Joseph Tapine as he waited on the sideline to re-enter the match. It didn’t go down well with the Raiders forward.
Footage shows the Canberra trainer watch the melee unfold, before placing a hand on the back of Panthers utility Tyrone May.
The trainer then seems to grab Penrith prop James Fisher-Harris in an apparent effort to remove him from the stoush. Fisher-Harris briefly speaks to the trainer, before Canberra playmaker Jack Wighton enters the fray and pushes the two apart.
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