Wayne Bennett has teed off at suggestions rule changes in the NRL are causing more blowouts, instead putting the onus on clubs with “toxic environments” to sort themselves out and become more competitive.
Speaking after South Sydney beat Wests Tigers 38-22 on Sunday afternoon, the Rabbitohs coach said clubs making poor decisions had to accept responsibility for the spate of games with huge winning margins.
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On Saturday, Manly thumped the Bulldogs 66-0, Gold Coast belted Canberra 44-6 and Newcastle ran riot against the Cowboys in a 38-0, resulting in a 148-6 bloodbath across all three matches.
Melbourne thumped the Roosters 46-0 on Thursday too as the round finished with an average winning margin of 26.75 points — making it the most lopsided NRL round in 20 years.
Many have pointed to rule changes speeding up the game as the reason for widening the gulf between the best and worst teams in the league, but Bennett doesn’t want to hear excuses.
“Management of clubs has a huge result on performances at the moment. Clubs have got to take a hell of a lot more responsibility than they are taking for the way the game is being played. It’s as simple as that,” Bennett said.
“I’m not going to name names and not going to name clubs but if you look at some of the decisions they’ve made, some of the things that have happened to players … I wouldn’t want to be at that club and I know if I was in that club I wouldn’t be playing very well.
“Clubs and their management and things that are happening at clubs are absolutely adding to the scoreboards.”
Canberra fans walked out during the Raiders’ loss to Gold Coast.Source:Getty Images
Bennett said the buzz around rule changes — such as introducing set restarts for ruck infringements and players being offside within the 10m — and blaming underperforming players was a beat-up that distracted from the real problems.
“I listen to you guys … you keep blaming the players. You’re so off the mark it doesn’t matter. You’re not in clubland, you don’t understand how it works,” Bennett said.
“Until the club itself gets their management in order, their whole ship, the club, the players will not be able to respond. But you keep blaming the players.
“You’re saying, ‘They get paid so they should go out there and play’. Not one of you guys go to a toxic environment to work and do your best work.
“You’re professional in your roles as journalists, it doesn’t happen for you. It’s no different in a football team.
“But the easy blame is to put the blame on the player because he’s not playing well, or the team’s not playing well. You’ve got to look deeper than that guys, because that’s where the problem is.
“It’s not the rules, rules may be part of it, you just look at some of the transfer and movement of players within clubs, in the last month even. It’s pretty ordinary stuff.”
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