Sam Burgess wasn't happy about missing a final for the Rabbitohs, after he was suspended for pulling a player's hair. Roosters' enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves isn't happy about being ruled out of the Preliminary Final after being found guilty of tripping. Coaches and pundits are scrambling for ways to improve the NRL judiciary system, to make sure the big stars are not missing from the big games. Here's an idea for the big stars of the game - stop committing idiotic acts on the field and you'll be just fine.
The reason both Burgess and Waerea-Hargreaves have been banned for relatively minor infractions is that they both have plenty of frequent flyer points when it comes to committing stupid acts on the field of play. It becomes an extremely bad look for the game if the NRL continues to fine these players and they continue to play the game in the same manner. Fines are clearly not having the desired effect on their ugly behavior. Still, Burgess was keen to blame the system.
"Everyone seems to be in uproar about this judiciary system," Burgess told News Ltd.
"Who is making calls here? Is there a discussion before these calls go out there? I don't know.
"What's the process? It's like a kangaroo court in there."
No one forced Sam Burgess to grab a clump of Roosters rookie Billy Smith's hair and pull on it. He doesn't deny doing it, it wasn't an accident, there are no extenuating circumstances, the hair did not instigate the confrontation. He had Smith pinned to the ground, wrapped his mitt around as much hair as he could and yanked it from side to side.
Similarly, no one apart from Waerea-Hargreaves is to blame for Waerea-Hargreaves sticking out his foot to trip James Roberts. He rather disingenuously claimed that he simply overbalanced causing his leg to unfortunately and incidentally thrust out towards the legs of the fleet-footed Roberts. The judiciary were having none of that and banned him for one game.
Burgess believes that the game should not be deprived of its stars for minor infractions. He somehow thinks that hair pulling is part of the game, part of the contest.
"Just fine the player. Was it bad? Did anyone get injured? Is anyone hurt? No, no. Is it silly? Is it part of the game? Is it in the contest? Yeah," Burgess continued.
"All right then, let's fine the player. Players will pay whatever, give it to charity, pour it into grassroots. Do something. Better than maybe senior players miss big games, that's what we play nine months for."
Burgess really needs to take a minute to consider why he, Waerea-Hargreaves and very few others are feeling aggrieved by the judiciary system when it comes to petty acts of on field stupidity. Most players leave that stuff out of their games.
The fans aren't tuning in to watch that rubbish; you only have to look at the outrage whenever someone like Cameron Smith is seen twisting ears or pressuring soft spots on opponent's heads. The fans like the game hard, tough and uncompromising, but free of unnecessary grubbery. The NRL has a duty to fans and to the legions of young players to show that it will not tolerate such behavior. Raiders forward Hudson Young is on an eight-game holiday because on two occasions he couldn't curb his desire to stick his fingers into the eyes of another player.
Over in the AFL, GWS Giants forward Toby Greene will miss the biggest game of his team's season -- not because of the severity of his act of stupidity, but because of the frequency of his stupid acts.
Players across all codes like to intimidate their opposition, to gain a psychological edge. Rugby league, almost like no other code, allows players to physically intimidate through the severity of the collision. Run hard, tackle hard, never take a backward step.
Burgess and Waerea-Hargreaves are both physically intimidating players, their presence on the field can swing games to their teams' advantage. They are much less effective when sitting in the grandstand serving a suspension for yet another act of stupidity. They are the only ones responsible for that conduct and the only ones capable of eradicating it from their games.