Wayne Bennett has taken aim at “hypocritical” players with NRL scheduling complaints after Melbourne launched another tirade following their 15-8 win over Brisbane on Thursday night.
For the second straight week Storm coach Craig Bellamy had the NRL in his sights over player welfare after they completed a brutal run of three games in 10 days ahead of next week’s finals.
“What has happened to these guys in the last 10 days has been criminal,” Bellamy said.
Melbourne captain Cameron Smith claimed the Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) would lobby the NRL “quite strongly” in a bid to avoid five-day turnarounds in next year’s draw.
Bellamy feared fatigue caused by the gruelling schedule would affect their NRL finals chances.
Melbourne kept their top four hopes alive but ended Brisbane’s minor premiership tilt with the three-tries-to-one win in front of 44,015 Suncorp Stadium fans.
But Bennett believed players with a scheduling gripe had “double standards”.
“Players are being a bit hypocritical,” he said after being told of the Storm’s post-match five-day turnaround complaints on Thursday night.
“Because in Origin they go back in two days and play.
“It’s the toughest game they play and they back up in two days.
“If they want to be fair dinkum (about player welfare) they will make changes across the board there and that is not going to happen.
“I hate double standards and that is what we are talking about here.”
Test skipper Smith wanted five-day turnarounds addressed by the NRL before next season.
“I can’t believe we are here playing tonight to be honest,” he said.
“The players have given notice to the RLPA that we are not happy about the five-day turnarounds.
“They will be taking that up quite strongly with the NRL before the end of the season so I would like to think there would be some movement.
“Or the NRL talks to the broadcasters about their scheduling of next year’s draw.”
Bellamy said it was “ridiculous” that they had been forced to play three games in 10 days before the finals.
“I think 13 of the other 16 teams have only played one in that time,” he said.
“I have never seen a team this tired.”
Melbourne can secure a top four finish if Manly upset Cronulla on Sunday.