North Queensland coach Paul Green has turned up the heat on the whistleblowers ahead of Friday’s NRL grand final qualifier, accusing Cronulla of abusing the 10 metres all year.
Green backed Canberra mentor Ricky Stuart’s stinging criticism of the Sharks, saying they were serial offenders when it came to jumping out early.
Stuart on Wednesday fired a shot at the Sharks following their finals week one loss to Shane Flanagan’s side, accusing them of only standing back eight metres and wrestling “the crap out of us on the ground”.
Flanagan on Thursday fired back, saying Stuart was just trying to influence the referees ahead of his side’s preliminary final against Melbourne on Saturday night.
However Stuart has received support from Green, who approached NRL referees boss Tony Archer after his side’s last encounter with the Sharks to address concerns Cronulla were allowed to get away with too much in the ruck.
“The last game we played against (the Sharks) there was only three points in it and gee they were pretty quick out of the blocks that night,” Green said.
“Following that I spoke to the referees about the 10 metres in particular and (Archer) probably felt the refs should have been a bit stronger on the 10 there.
“I’m just hoping that they police that properly again because I think it’ll give us a good open game of footy that everyone’s going to enjoy.”
Flanagan was unfazed by Stuart’s attack on his club’s playing style, believing his Canberra counterpart was only using the Sharks as a means to help his side’s cause against Melbourne.
“For me it’s just a tactic of Sticky to put the referees on notice,” Flanagan told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast.
“Ricky doesn’t want to talk about Melbourne’s wrestle so he’s brought someone else up and just stated the point that he wants an open and care-free sort of game, not to be made about the wrestle on the ground.”
Melbourne have been at the centre of a wrestling controversy throughout this month’s finals campaign.
North Queensland reportedly voiced their concern to the NRL after their first-week finals loss in Melbourne, during which Ethan Lowe suffered a season-ending neck injury.
However the Storm have been adamant they’re doing nothing wrong and say they received assurances from the NRL there is no issue with their tackling technique.