Brad Fittler and Phil Gould under fire in 'disgusting' NRL controversy

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Brad Fittler and Phil Gould, pictured here on Channel Nine.
Brad Fittler and Phil Gould have come under fire for their comments. Image: Getty

Veteran rugby league journalist Phil Rothfield has called out Channel Nine commentators Phil Gould, Brad Fittler and Cameron Smith over their response to Karl Lawton's send-off.

Manly forward Lawton is facing at least a month on the sidelines after he was hit him with the highest-possible grade for a dangerous throw under the game's judicial system.

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Lawton was charged with a grade-three offence after being sent-off just nine minutes into Manly's 40-22 loss to South Sydney on Friday night.

Lawton lifted Souths forward Cameron Murray before driving him into the ground in sickening scenes, with the tackle coming close to resembling a spear tackle.

Murray was uninjured in the tackle, but things could have ended up much worse.

However Gould and Fittler questioned whether Lawton deserved to be sent off while in commentary at the time.

“It’s just momentum. No-one’s hurt, everyone’s OK. Settle down,” Gould said after the tackle.

“He doesn’t need a spell.”

After Lawton was sent from the field, Gould then said: “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

“It’s a little bit of a flip but to be sent off for that when there’s absolutely no injury to the other player, I find that extraordinary.

“You want your prime time TV show to now be 12 on 13, if that’s your product I give up.”

Karl Lawton, pictured here being sent off for his lifting tackle on Cameron Murray.
Karl Lawton was sent off for his lifting tackle on Cameron Murray. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Fittler said: “In support of Gus here, I don’t think at any stage that deserved a send-off.

“And I’ve got to say what he’s got to do is make sure he applauds Cam Murray. We see a lot of players get in this situation and they’ll drop their head to the ground while Cam Murray looked to protect himself.

“I thought that could have been an awful lot worse and I really can’t believe Lawton is walking past me on the sideline.”

Smith said a sin-bin “would’ve been sufficient”, but fellow Queensland legend Johnathan Thurston asked: “If that’s not a send-off offence, what is?”

Phil Gould and Brad Fittler under fire

Speaking on the Big Sports Breakfast on Monday morning, Rothfield said Gould and Fittler's comments were "bordering on irresponsible".

“I thought it was a correct decision. I have no doubt it was a correct decision and it could have led to a very, very serious injury for Cameron Murray,” Rothfield said.

“I think the commentary with people like Phil Gould and Cameron Smith and 'Freddy' Fittler, who I respect so much, was bordering on irresponsible.

“I think we’ve got to support match officials in situations like this. The game is not going soft when we remove players from the field for an old-fashioned spear tackle, which it was. I applaud the NRL for not tolerating it.

“I think there would have been a bigger blow-up if Karl Lawton stayed on the field.”

Karl Lawton, pictured here after being sent-off against South Sydney.
Karl Lawton looks on after being sent-off against South Sydney. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Rothfield said officials should have taken further action against Canberra star Jack Wighton, who was penalised for a lifting tackle against the Warriors but allowed to stay on the field.

Wighton is now facing a two-week ban after a grade-two charge.

“I think they made a mistake with the Jack Wighton tackle against the Warriors," Rothfield added.

"The match review committee has shown that by handing out a high grade ... he’s going to miss a couple of weeks.

“Any spear tackle, anything that puts the head and neck area in danger has to be treated as seriously as what they did on Friday night.”

Fand and fellow journalists were also unimpressed with Fittler and Gould's comments.

with AAP

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