South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has launched an extraordinary broadside on his fellow NRL coaches, labelling some of them “drama queens”.
Several league heavyweights have spoken out following a summer filled with off-season scandals, most recently Penrith’s Phil Gould and Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart, but Bennett said it was time to focus on the game.
Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy said players had a “lack of decency” earlier this week as well.
Asked directly about Stuart’s comments, in which the Raiders coach discussed how poor player behaviour reflects badly on the game, Bennett was upfront.
“I can’t believe some of the silly statements that they’ve all made. They earn a living from this game,” Bennett said.
“They’ve all been a part of it for so long and they’ve seen so many things. We’ve been through a bit of a tough period before and we’ve managed them and we’ve moved on.
“I think there’s a few drama queens out there to be honest with you.”
Wayne Bennett can not understand guys like Ricky Stuart saying they’re disappointed to be associated with rugby league. ‘They earn a living from this game … there have been a few drama queens out there …’
— christian nicolussi (@mrchrisnico) March 14, 2019
Wayne Bennett says the #NRL has been through tough periods before "and we've managed them and we've moved on".
That's kind of the point, Mr Eastwood. Managing individual incidents that keep happening again and again and again clearly isn't working pic.twitter.com/KvrK5MaHtw
— Jon Healy (@JonHealy) March 14, 2019
Despite taking aim at his colleagues’ concern for the state of the game, Bennett admitted he agreed with the moves the NRL had made to stamp out bad behaviour.
Bennett cited Parramatta Eels prop Peni Terepo being stood down for his drunken behaviour on a flight to New Zealand as an example of reduced tolerance for such incidents working.
“An incident the other day where someone is coming home on a plane and he’s out of a job now – they will get the message,” he said.
“When they start realising that the game’s not going to have a place for them anymore they will get the message.
“As somebody suggested to me yesterday we shouldn’t have an off-season anymore, just play right through and we’ll all be happy. Next time I see Todd (Greenberg) I’ll mention it to him, see if we can play 12 months.”