Wayne Bennett's startling Dolphins claim as he floats radical solution to major NRL issue

Bennett wants to see the sin bin and send off rule overhauled.

Wayne Bennett has unloaded on the NRL for failing to change with the times as the state of officiating in the league continues to come under fire. The NRL has tinkered with the rules in 2024 but the consistency of calls hasn't improved.

And after State of Origin was again littered with a string of contentious and outright bizarre calls on Wednesday night the Dolphins coach unloaded on the NRL. In a damning verbal assault on the league's head office, the veteran coach claimed the NRL continues to ignore his advice about ways to improve the game. And Bennett says not only are referees not consistent but they favour certain teams, suggesting others sides including the Dolphins are treated unfairly.

Pictured left Wayne Bennett and right Jeremy Marshall-King
Wayne Bennett says teams such as the Dolphins are regularly treated unfairly by the NRL. Image: Getty

Bennett believes the way professional fouls are dealt with needs to be completely overhauled but more than anything he says referees need to get on the same page. "If I was a punter I couldn’t bet a penny on rugby league at the moment," Bennett told Fox Sports Australia. "We can’t hide and pretend it is not a problem because it is a problem and it is causing massive frustration, not just with the players and coaches, but the fans. People always go on about consistency. I know how hard consistency is. What I want is fairness for every team. I want to know we are all getting a fair shake out there."

"I have had four players in the last two weeks hit with contact to the head by the opposition illegally. Not one penalty in those four times. But I have had two of these players taken out of the game on the advice of the independent doctor, who believed that they were concussed and so they were out of the game for 15 minutes... But I have had two of these players taken out of the game on the advice of the independent doctor, who believed that they were concussed and so they were out of the game for 15 minutes. So the doctor, who is the expert, believed they were concussed. Yet the referee accused one of the players (Herbie Farnworth) that he was milking it."

Bennett's comments come as the NRL world was left gobsmacked by some bizarre calls in Game 2 of State of Origin on Wednesday night. In one instance Liam Martin somehow avoided being sin-binned for a dangerous lifting tackle on Maroons forward Reuben Cotter. But the strangest part of that call was it came just days after Warriors centre Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was sent to the sin bin for lifting Titans star Jayden Campbell. Yet while Martin wasn't sin-binned for the dangerous tackle, he was incredibly sin-binned later in the game for patting the head of a Queensland player.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 26:  Liam Martin of the Blues is sent to the sin-bin during game two of the men's State of Origin series between New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 26, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Liam Martin avoided the sin-bin for a lifting tackle but later was given his marching order for patting a Maroons player on the head.

Bennett described the current model for officiating sin-bin and send-off offences as outdated and believes the whole system needs to be overhauled. The veteran coach wants to see a change to the way offences are officiated.

In his opinion any player who commits a professional foul should be automatically sin-binned and he also wants to see send-offs restructured and not result in a team going down to 12 men. Bennett says the send-off was created in 1908 and is frankly outdated.


The Dolphins mentor pointed to the send-off of Joseph Suaalii in Game 1 as why the game can't afford to see a team go down a player for the majority of the game. He proposes that send-offs should see a team lose three interchanges, but should not result in teams losing a player on the field.

"Let’s just keep it simple and stick to the professional fouls for sin bins, and then let the match review committee take control of the grading and suspensions," Bennett said.