Craig Bellamy is glad the biff is binned, as much as he loves old-school rugby league.
The Melbourne coach said ongoing concerns about one-punch assaults in the wider community meant the NRL must set an example.
The running battle between the Roosters’ Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Brisbane opponent Sam Thaiday last Friday night has rekindled debate about what sort of aggression should be allowed in the game.
Bellamy candidly admitted on Wednesday he loved the biff – but also agreed with the NRL it no longer had a place in the competition.
“We’d all like to see the biff come back – everyone loves a bit of a stoush,” Bellamy said.
“But we are an extension of society … and there’s been a lot of young people killed from single punches, one punches.
“We have to lead the way there, so I think the NRL has done exactly the right thing by banning punching.”
Bellamy said league players and other high-profile sportspeople were role models and had to set the right example.
“We can’t expect our young people in society to look up to NRL players or sporting people and seeing them do things they’re not supposed to be doing.
“So we have to set an example, because our guys are role models for young people.
“I’m sure if you ask the families of the young men who have died or (have been) seriously injured from one-punches, I know what sort of response you’d get from them.
“We have to lead the way there.”
Two years ago, the NRL cracked down on fighting with an edict that any punching meant automatic time in the sin bin.
“We all like going back to the days where guys could sort each other out,” Bellamy said.
“I suppose this has come from Jared and Sam’s running battle last Friday night.
“Us older guys would love to see that again.
“But we just can’t do that – it’s not part of society any more.
“We are part of society and we have to set some examples.”