NRL fans and commentators were left gobsmacked on Friday night when Latrell Mitchell wasn't sent off for his sickening hit on Joey Manu.
South Sydney beat the Roosters 54-12 in a spiteful clash that saw a high shot from Mitchell send Manu to hospital with a suspected broken cheekbone.
Mitchell was sin-binned and is facing a season-ending ban after being hit with a grade two reckless high tackle charge on Saturday, meaning he will miss a minimum of six games.
He can accept a six-week ban with an early guilty plea (which would end his season), but is facing up to nine weeks out if he unsuccessfully challenges the charge at the judiciary.
However the NRL world was left seething that Mitchell was sin-binned rather than being sent off altogether.
Manu was rubbed out for the rest of the game, yet Mitchell was allowed to return to the field and scored a try not long after.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson didn't hold back in his post-game press conference, labelling the NRL bunker a circus and a farce "that bad it's actually funny".
“It took Joey to stand up and stick up for himself with a depressed fracture of the cheekbone and they still didn’t want to do anything about it. Henry Perenara in the bunker didn’t stop play. Ashley (Klein) asked them to play on and then the players went at it again. Then they missed it again,” Robinson said.
“Perenara is up in the box doesn’t do a thing about it for 30, 40, 50 seconds. It is a common theme this year about the NRL and bunker not looking after our players.
"The guy is off in hospital and they send him for 10 in the bin, 10 in the bin. It was laughable. A guy will finish the year for a late shot on the head. You cannot make decisions, if that’s your decision.
“Get out of there. If you can’t do it, get out of there. Or just get rid of it (the bunker) completely.
"If you cannot do the job, get out of there. It’s shown that the NRL bunker cannot do their job this year. It’s been a farce, an absolute farce.”
NRL world explodes over Latrell Mitchell 'disgrace'
Veteran journalist Phil Rothfield tweeted: “The NRL cannot allow Latrell Mitchell to play again this year.
"It was both reckless and deliberate. Can’t believe he got only 10 minutes. It’s a disgrace.
“The person in the bunker and the referee need to be stood down for as long as Latrell is suspended.
"Steve Chiddy, who missed the Kaufusi hit on Matterson, was stood down for a month. The same should happen.”
Fox League commentator Warren Smith tweeted: “I think it’s fair to say, had the bunker and the referee got the Mitchell high tackle punishment correct, none of the crap that’s happened since would have occurred. None of the officials from this game should be involved in the finals.
“Remember, it was only a few weeks ago that the Mitchell tackle on Manu would have been an automatic send-off. The crackdown was a four week farce, and what has happened since proves it.
“The game has been turned inside-out over the past 12 months with so many rule changes and interpretation twists that the fans don’t know what’s happening and neither do in-game officials.
“We’ve gone from the bunker not knowing how to react sufficiently to foul play, to the NRL’s massive over-reaction for four weeks until they couldn’t stand the criticism anymore, and now back to wherever the hell we are now. The officials are lost, and so is the game.”
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) August 27, 2021
— Russell Jackson (@rustycj) August 27, 2021
The NRL cannot allow Latrell Mitchell to play again this year. It was both reckless and deliberate. Can’t believe he got only 10 minutes. It’s a disgrace.
— BUZZ ROTHFIELD (@BuzzRothfield) August 27, 2021
Manu to Latrell: “why did you do that for?” Heartbreaking the emotion in those words to his former team-mate. Love Latrell. But that high shot was just horrific. Deserved winners Souths. But what a disappointing incident. #NRLroosterssouths
— Robert Grasso (@RobertGrasso) August 27, 2021
My view of Mitchell tackle is as he runs in,he has no idea where his point of contact will be..It's just to hit as hard as possible.And that intention is, without apology, part of the game.But he got him in the head, & that will likely incur a 6 wk ban. Should have been sent off.
— Andrew Voss (@AndrewVossy) August 27, 2021
Gees, Latrell is lucky that wasn’t a send-off I reckon. He is going to spend some time on the sidelines.
— Brent Read (@brentread_7) August 27, 2021
Phil Gould said Mitchell's tackle had effectively knocked both teams out of the competition, while Paul Gallen was adamant Souths can't win the comp without Mitchell in the No.1.
"We'll have to wait and see," Souths coach Wayne Bennett said when asked if they could win the title without Mitchell.
"He's a huge player for us, but we didn't have him last year in the playoffs and I think we're a better team than we were last year and pretty good at getting other players to play well for us in key positions.
"We've won a lot of games this year with a lot of players missing.
"At the moment, we're looking at a couple of key players missing through suspension, but I'm confident there's enough good players to make it happen.
"It just makes it a bit harder."
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