NRL responds after Brad Fittler's 'ridiculous' Origin complaint

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler is pictured during a training session.
The NRL has stood by decisions made by referees in the State of Origin decider, despite criticism from NSW coach Brad Fittler. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The NRL has shrugged off criticism from NSW coach Brad Fittler in the wake of State of Origin, standing behind the decision not to sin bin Tino Fa'asuamaleaui over his role in the Game III brawl.

Fittler was fuming about the moment of madness between Dane Gagai and Matt Burton which saw the pair sent to the bin for 10 minutes - however Fa'asuamaleaui remained on the field.

WOW: Cameron Smith reveals Andrew Johns apology over Origin backlash

INTERESTING: Storm fans accused of dodgy act during loss to Raiders

The Queensland enforcer's escape from on-field penalty, as well as copping a smaller fine than NSW's Burton upon viewing by the match review committee, culminated in Fittler labelling the league's handling of the incident 'ridiculous'.

Gagai and Burton went at it in the second half, with Fa'asuamaleaui catching Burton in a headlock after he and Gagai had thrown punches at one another.

The instigating pair of Burton and Gagai each copped a grade two striking charge, while Fa'asuamaleaui was booked for a grade two high tackle and grade one dangerous contact.

Days after the Origin decider, Fittler was still heated about the incident on the Sunday Footy Show.

"The problem I had with it was Graham Annesley had come out during the week and spoke about the third man in should be sin-binned," he said.

"Tino was the third man in and he could have done other things other than put (Burton) in a pretty aggressive head lock, and the way that got treated. The fact is at the end of the day when it went to the (MRC) Matt Burton actually got fined more money than Tino.

"Matt Burton got fined more than Tino. I find that absolutely ridiculous."

Annesley though, backed the decision to allow Fa'asuamaleaui to remain on the field, saying it was for 'match officials to determine' at the time.

"I have no problem at all with the two players who were sin-binned. There are some people that would suggest Tino should have been sent to the bin as well," he said.

"His involvement was different. The match officials dealt with that in consultation with the Bunker, and then the match review committee dealt with it.

"I'm not going to be critical of it. I think it was important that action was taken on the field, and it was just as important that it was reviewed by the match review committee."

Bard Fittler fuming over State of Origin brawl penalties

Former Brisbane captain Darren Lockyer argued that by pulling Burton away from Gagai, Fa'asuamaleaui had prevented further punches from being thrown. But Fittler disagreed.

"Even if he does, he's still in a head lock and Dane Gagai still continue to melee with him and fight," Fittler said.

"At the end of it Matt Burton has come out of it pretty ordinary, and to be fined more ... I thought that was just hopeless."

The pair were fined 23 per cent of their match fee, following changes to the NRL's judiciary code this season aimed at minimising suspensions incurred from representative games.

Canterbury interim coach Mick Potter said the pair were lucky to escape further sanction post-match.

"I think so," he said. "Both of them could probably do with some boxing lessons.

"I think both of them were trying to defend themselves. The 10 minutes in the bin took the heat out of that moment."

Potter suggested Burton may have been unlucky to have copped the same punishment as Gagai, who instigated the fight and ensuing melee between the sides.

Matt Burton is sent off during the State of Origin decider by referee Ashely Klein.
Matt Burton was sent off from the State of Origin decider alongside Queesland's Dane Gagai in the second half. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

"I thought (Burton) did cop the rough end of the pineapple there," he said.

"There probably could have been some other action taken on other people."

Gagai went toe-to-toe with Burton in a crazy Origin III in Brisbane last week, the pair sin-binned before the Maroons went from 12-10 down to win 22-12.

It was their ninth win from the last 10 Origin deciders and meant the series has been split 3-3 in the last six years and 2-2 since new coach Billy Slater last played in 2018.

"It's Origin - just stepping up for your mates," Gagai told AAP of his thought process behind the fight that landed both fines, but no NRL suspensions.

"Two alpha males just not wanting to back down, and it was on.

"My old man always taught me what happens on the field stays on the field and I've met him outside of footy a few times.

"He seems like a good man, so no hard feelings; he was just standing up for himself, I was standing up for my mate."

With AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting