The blowtorch is being applied to Latrell Mitchell after the Souths superstar hit back at claims he stayed down to milk penalties in Sunday's NRL elimination final win over the Roosters.
Mitchell has emphatically denied suggestions he deliberately played for penalties in the chaotic 30-14 win over the Roosters, but says the NRL's bunker has invited him to wait on one knee and ask referees for penalties.
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The Bunnies fullback twice waited on one knee and looked at referee Ashley Klein after hits from Connor Watson and Nat Butcher in the second half of the controversial Allianz Stadium clash, which featured seven sin-bins and five HIAs - in which three players failed to return to action.
The matters prompted premiership-winning coach, Nine commentator and Canterbury general manager of football Phil Gould to claim that Mitchell had "made a farce of rugby league" in the win over the Tricolours.
The NRL also admitted they were concerned about the trend after several incidents across the weekend, and that they would look for deterrents in the off-season.
But Mitchell was adamant he never laid down, and was merely asking the referee if a penalty would be blown.
The Rabbitohs star even offered up a new nickname for himself after being accused of several incidents of gamesmanship.
"Call me Trell-Milk now," Mitchell quipped.
"I've play the game hard and tough and honestly I've never felt the forces that they (the Roosters) brought.
"I think they were head hunting a little bit but end of the day that is the game of rugby league.
"If the bunker doesn't see it and the ref doesn't see it, that's the game. I didn't do anything
"I didn't lay down. I got up on my knee, and pretty much looked at the ref and went what's going on? But that's it.
"That's the game of rugby league at the moment. You can call it as it is, but we we don't lay down for penalties."
When put to him he was within his rights to slow down the game to allow the bunker to review tackles and overrule the on-field call of play-on, the Bunnies fullback agreed.
"Well, the bunker has taken over the game, so that's how the game is played," Mitchell said.
"Semi-final footy, the ref likes to put the whistle away a little bit. That's how it should be.
"But you've just got to be consistent in a way where it works on both sides."
Speaking about the drama on NRL 360 on Tuesday night, the show's co-host Paul Kent accused Mitchell of contradicting himself and admitted it was a bad look for players to be staying down looking for penalties.
Latrell Mitchell called out over milking remarks
“If you let him talk long enough, he beats himself with his own argument,” Kent said about the Rabbitohs fullback.
“He started out today’s press conference talking about how he doesn’t lay down for penalties and by the end of it he was talking about how if the Bunker is there and can get involved then it will get involved and that’s the rules.
“He basically started with a defence and then argued against himself by the end of it. I (do) like the fact he has the confidence to talk the way he is.”
Fellow panelist and News Corp journalist Paul Crawley was also less than impressed and insisted that it started with the coach to stamp out the trend of 'milking' penalties that has crept into the game.
“He (Mitchell) contradicts himself almost every time he opens his mouth and unless you sit there, shake your head and nod in agreement, you’re one of the haters,” Crawley said.
“But he clearly contradicted himself there because he did stay down, he did try and milk the penalty, it is against the spirit of the game.
“You might be able to get a penalty out of it, but the Roosters don’t do it. The reason they don’t do it is because they’re coached not to do it.
“This is a decision for the players and their coaches to make, that’s who can fix the problem.”
Kent agreed and suggested that the reason why teams are exploiting the rules is because the NRL are allowing them to do so with their use of the Bunker.
“Just because they found a loophole in the rules, it doesn’t mean you should exploit it,” Kent said.
“The NRL thought they were one step ahead of the game by saying ‘if there is a bit of a delay in the play the ball while he’s down, let’s just have a sneaky look at it in the Bunker, tell the referee whether it should be a penalty and that way we’re on top of the penalties.’
“Within five minutes, the clubs have worked it out. They are coaching - not just Souths - maybe they’re not coaching it, maybe individuals are taking it upon themselves to do it.
“It’s the game’s fault, it’s head office's fault."
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