South Sydney make official complaint about 'illegal' Panthers tactic

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Panthers trainer Hayden Knowles, pictured here during their win over the Storm.
Souths have officially filed a complaint about Panthers trainer Hayden Knowles. Image: NRL.com

South Sydney have reportedly made an official complaint to the NRL about the Panthers ahead of Sunday night's grand final.

The Rabbitohs and Panthers will go head-to-head in Sunday night's decider at Suncorp Stadium for the chance to lift the premiership trophy.

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However Souths have ignited the pre-match fireworks after it emerged they had complained to the NRL about the Panthers' tactics in their preliminary final win over the Storm.

According to veteran News Corp journalist Brent Read, the Rabbitohs have made a formal complaint about the amount of time trainer Hayden Knowles spent on the field in the Panthers-Storm clash.

Rabbitohs hierarchy reportedly sent an email to the NRL's head of football Graham Annesley seeking a please explain over Knowles' involvement in Saturday's game.

The Rabbitohs reportedly raised the issue in the “interests of ensuring a well fought grand final that is played in both the spirit of our game and within its rule”.

Trainers are only allowed onto the field three times per half to deliver messages to players when their team is in possession.

But according to Souths, Knowles entered the field of play 13 times.

Hayden Knowles, pictured here on the field during the Panthers' win over the Storm.
Hayden Knowles was on the field for the entirety of the Panthers' final set. Image: NRL.com

Footage from Saturday's match shows Knowles running onto the field with the Panthers in possession in the final minute of play while up 10-6, staying on the field barking orders at players for the full set.

“Both grand final clubs are fully aware of NRL operational rules they are expected to comply with, so I am not going to enter into a public debate about it,” Annesley told News Corp.

“Our job as administrators is to make sure both teams get equal opportunity to determine the outcome of the game on their own merits.

"The focus should be solely on the players and we will be doing our best to ensure that happens.”

According to the publication, Annesley told Souths the league took rules around trainers very seriously.

Knowles has reportedly been warned in the past about the amount of time he spends on field.

Hayden Knowles, pictured here on the bench during Penrith's clash with the Eels.
Hayden Knowles looks on from the bench during Penrith's clash with the Eels earlier this year. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Gerard Sutton gets grand final nod despite 'unacceptable' blunder

There was further controversy in the Panthers' win over the Storm when Nathan Cleary was allowed to take a conversion attempt well in from the spot that Brian To'o had scored the decisive try.

Annesley said it was "simply unacceptable" that referee Gerard Sutton had missed the indiscretion.

Nevertheless, Sutton was still appointed to referee Sunday night's decider.

The spotlight has been on officials during the second half of the season, with Annesley admitting to several on-field errors in the weeks leading up to the grand final.

"There's always pressure with every game in the NRL but it's magnified with games like State of Origin or grand finals," Sutton said on Tuesday.

"But that's part of the privilege of being a part of it."

Sutton was handed the whistle for his fifth-straight grand final, and the seventh of his career.

After a finals series littered with refereeing controversies, Sutton will be grateful to simply get through the clash between South Sydney and Penrith without being noticed at all.

"We always know there's going to be some focus on the match officials and we're out there to do the best we possibly can, and we'll be doing everything we possibly can to ensure that it's about the players," he said.

"At the end of the day we want them to determine the result, and if we go unnoticed that would be great for us."

with AAP

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