Canterbury boss Raelene Castle says the NRL club has learned its lesson from the ugly scenes late in the Good Friday loss to South Sydney and vowed to treat match officials with greater respect.
Skipper James Graham, interchange forward David Klemmer and hooker Michael Lichaa on Tuesday all took the early guilty pleas on contrary conduct charges stemming from their angry exchanges with referee Gerard Sutton late in the round five loss.
“Referees are to be respected at all times and it is clear that the NRL have drawn a new line in the sand in relation to player engagement with match officials,” Castle said.
“James, David and Michael will emerge from this experience as better players and better leaders.”
Klemmer will miss three matches due to loading from a similar charge in the last two years, while Graham was also hit with a dangerous contact charge for his tackle on Adam Reynolds that sparked the exchange with Sutton and brought about the match-winning penalty goal.
Lichaa escaped a ban on the lesser contrary conduct charge.
Bulldogs star Josh Morris said a contrite Graham had addressed the team with an apology at their video session on Tuesday.
“He apologised for what happened and if the same situation happened again I’m sure he would react differently,” Morris said.
“Obviously frustration got the better of us there and the way we reacted probably wasn’t the best.
“We need to know how to handle ourselves in those moments a little bit better and I think this was a learning curve.
“James was apologetic and said that as captain it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do.
“He is a very sincere bloke and I think everyone knows the type of bloke that he is and the competitor that he is and he let that get the better of him.
“But he has learnt from that mistake.”
Aidan Tolman, who is likely to take over as Bulldogs skipper in the absence of Graham, said he continued to have his teammates’ support.
“We probably took the wrong approach about it, all players involved are probably aware of that,” Tolman said.
“But in saying that the two players (Graham and Klemmer) are passionate players, they wear their heart on their sleeve every time they take the field.
“James in particular, he is our leader, there is no one else I would rather be in the trenches than with him and that’s the approach every player has.”