Rugby league journalist Michael Carayannis has called on the NRL to sanction Phil Gould over his comments regarding Taylan May's suspension.
May is at the centre of controversy after the NRL handed him a two-match suspension for a pub assault, but decided he could serve the ban next year and play in the finals - starting Friday night.
The young winger was charged with assaulting a teenager during the Panthers' grand final celebrations on the Sunshine Coast in October 2021, and was found guilty late last month.
No conviction was recorded, but Magistrate Matthew McLaughlin ordered May to pay a $1000 fine and another $1000 to the victim.
Speaking on Thursday, ARLC chairman Peter V'landys said the decision to delay May's ban until next season was made for fans, arguing that the league's biggest games should not be robbed of the best players.
But many others disagree, with veteran journalist Paul Kent labelling the decision 'disgraceful'.
Bulldogs general manager Gould, who previously played for and coached the Panthers, weighed in on the furore on Thursday to say he believes May shouldn't have been suspended at all.
Gould made the staggering statement that May 'should be congratulated' for his actions.
"Why argue over when Taylan May suspension should be served? Why was he suspended at all?" he tweeted.
"No conviction recorded by court. $1000 fine. Hardly serious matter. Video clearly shows he defused situation before it escalated.
"Why are footballers always wrong? May should be congratulated."
Why argue over when Taylan May suspension should be served? Why was he suspended at all? No conviction recorded by court. $1000 fine. Hardly serious matter. Video clearly shows he defused situation before it escalated. Why are footballers always wrong? May should be congratulated
— Phil Gould (@PhilGould15) September 7, 2022
Speaking on NRL 360 on Thursday night, Carayannis said Gould should be sanctioned by the NRL for his comments.
“The fact that an official of a club said that May should be congratulated. The NRL should sanction Gus,” he said.
“If they had any gumption, they’d sanction him - he is a club official.
“To say that someone should be congratulated for assaulting a man and we’re OK with that?”
Ivan Cleary speaks out amid Taylan May furore
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary weighed in on the debate on Thursday, saying there was no malice in May's actions and it's fair he's allowed to play in the finals.
Cleary said he was "very pleased" that May was able to play, claiming he didn't understand why people were upset.
"Some people will think that he shouldn't be suspended at all as well," Cleary said.
"I'm not going to make a call on that, other than to say that I support Taylan.
"This incident happened, he'd played one game in first grade. It was 12 months ago. He was sober. He was just trying to defuse an incident.
"Potentially he was strong-handed, but he certainly didn't mean to do anything other than just try and defuse the situation.
"He's been dealt with in court. That's where it lies there."
Asked whether the May decision should prompt the NRL to defer bans for on-field incidents during the finals as well, Cleary was non-committal.
"I don't know. It looks like there's some precedent happening," Cleary responded.
"The NRL have made it look like they're pretty clear on that (for off-field matters), so I guess we wait and see."
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