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Just please don’t put the send-off rule in the sin bin


As the foul play crack down continues, exactly one year since the infamous Magic Round chaos, debate has ensued over whether the crime fits the time.

Picture this: It’s the 2022 Grand Final, the Storm up against the Panthers.

A Melbourne rotation forward, of fairly minor significance, commits a deliberate, or even just reckless, act of foul play against Nathan Cleary. The Penrith star cannot return, ruled out for the rest of the premiership decider. 

What should the punishment be?

Because former player-turned NRL broadcaster Joel Caine has sparked debate, arguing that the culprit’s team should only be penalised for 10 minutes.

He suggested on Twitter that a ‘send off-worthy’ act should see the player binned, unable to return, but the team’s punishment more minor.

The well-respected NRL Physio summed it up perfectly, replying to Caine’s tweet.

“Send-off acts generally are reckless/careless enough … to take out an opposition player.”

Teams need to be held accountable for the actions of their players.

This season, good football sides have shown that they can win and still play well with players in the sin-bin, or even when a player is sent-off.

At one stage during the Sharks’ Round 9 clash with the Warriors, the Sharks were reduced to 11 men after Will Kennedy’s early send off and Jesse Ramien then copping a second half sin bin.

The Sharks ended up winning the game 29-10 and played 64 minutes down at least one player.

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Playing with a ‘three-man bench’ is less of a punishment as it perhaps once was, given the fitness and professionalism of modern NRL athletes. 

Plenty of sides effectively a three-forward bench rotation strategy, with a back-up utility as the 17th option. 

The send-off rule does not need to be changed. If players don’t commit reckless and dangerous acts, most of which are avoidable, we’re not having this conversation.

Joel Martelli
Joel Martelli
The only thing that Joel Martelli loves more than football (seriously, we wouldn't be surprised if he has a Wollongong Wolves tattoo) is writing about all things sports. With a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies Degree specialising in Journalism, he spends his days uncovering breaking athlete news stories and diving deep into play-by-play strategies. We're glad that he's put his passion to the pages of Only Sports as one of our dedicated sports writers.

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