NRL journalist Paul Kent has launched a sensational broadside against Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy, claiming the veteran coach has no legitimacy when it comes to discussing player safety.
The pair have had something of a back and forth that has played out in various comments and questions throughout the week, after Kent said Storm forward Felise Kaufusi should have been banned for eight weeks for his high shot on Parramatta's Ryan Matterson last weekend.
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Bellamy brushed off the suggestion of such a lengthy ban as 'ridiculous', using the same label for NRL referees' boss Jared Maxwell's call for whistleblowers to use the sin bin more frequently.
When asked about Bellamy's dismissive response, Kent accused the three-time premiership-winning coach of being responsible for several now-prohibited tackle moves being introduced to the game.
Part of Kent's argument was that coaches ought to do more to prevent concussions.
“All right let me just say this, Grapple tackle, chicken wing, rolling pin, hip drop, crusher, crocodile rolls, cannon balls, ankle twists,” Kent told NRL 360.
“The only constant in Melbourne since 2005 when all those tackles have been brought in and later banned in the game is the head coach Craig Bellamy.
“So I think the less advice we take from Craig Bellamy about the welfare of players the better.
“And you can go to town on that because you know what they are the ones that are doing it.
“The game is now producing rules to counter what Melbourne are trying to introduce. I’ve got no stock in it.”
Paul Kent takes aim at Craig Bellamy over NRL concussions
Bellamy had his defenders on the NRL 360 panel, with commentator Ben Ikin suggesting Bellamy was simply defending his player.
Though Ikin pointed out that Bellamy was hardly likely to do anything but defend Kaufusi, Kent was having none of it.
He referred back to a brutal 2018 concussion that left Matterson house-bound for eight weeks, due to ongoing dizziness and other symptoms.
Kent argued coaches needed to hold their own players more accountable for the good of the league.
"The fact is he could have come out and said what he said today which was hopefully Kaufusi learns his lesson," he said.
"Maybe he should have said that and shown a bit of care for the players that are actually playing this game and who are getting the brain injury.
“Ryan Matterson has got a history of concussion. He was concussed in 2018 and couldn’t leave his house for eight weeks because of the dizzy spells and headaches.
“And here’s a bloke dropping an elbow on him the other night, please.”
Kaufusi was handed a grade-two dangerous contact charge on Friday after his elbow pushed down on the head of Matterson as he fell in a tackle.
The Queensland State of Origin second-rower can escape with a two-game ban with an early guilty plea, but it will go to three weeks if he contests it and loses.
It comes after the incident sparked controversy in the Eels' 16-12 win.
Matterson was unable to return to the field after failing his HIA, but Kaufusi was able to remain on.
The NRL's head of football Graham Annesley confirmed on Friday it was not mandatory for players to be sin-binned if foul play led to a HIA, instead it was at the discretion of the referee and bunker.
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