NRL gave itself a black eye: Bennett

Wayne Bennett says the NRL’s inability to place a blanket ban on referee contact by players has given the game a black eye.

Bennett has asked for common sense to prevail, saying the NRL could have solved the problem by alerting clubs that they were targeting the issue.

“Consistency is always an issue,” Bennett said.

“We kind of give ourselves a black eye all the time – I don’t know why we do it.”

The NRL crackdown appeared in disarray after the Bulldogs’ David Klemmer was found not guilty of a contrary conduct charge at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night.

The NSW forward will be free to take on Parramatta on Friday night.

The Bulldogs were bristling that Klemmer was even charged after Parramatta’s Corey Norman, Penrith’s Trent Merrin and Wests Tigers’ Mitchell Moses did not come under the scrutiny of the MRC for similar incidents over the first two rounds.

To add to the confusion, Brisbane’s James Roberts accepted an early guilty plea for touching referee Matt Noyen in his side’s win over the Warriors last Friday.

“It’s like the shoulder charge, they all need a bit of common sense,” Bennett said of the NRL’s referee contact crackdown.

“If there is no common sense down there (match review committee) you will have to make it a blanket ban.

“Either way just tell us what is going on.”

Bennett believed red faces at the NRL could have been avoided if the league had simply alerted clubs of a crackdown.

“It could have been solved pretty easily,” he said.

“If they thought it was an issue then why didn’t they just advise us all, so we could tell the players, just to remind them.

“They obviously had a plan in their heads.

“If they want to do a blanket ban, then why didn’t they tell us first because I didn’t know this was happening.”

Bennett said he did not even notice the referee contact incidents involving Klemmer, Roberts and Norman during the game and had no problem with them when he saw them on replay.

“I didn’t see what Klemmer, Roberts or Norman did was offensive,” he said.

“What we don’t want is players patting referees on the head like they did 20 years ago.”

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