NRL boss David Smith says any suggestion that the Cowboys are being unfairly treated is a “ridiculous notion”.
NRL CEO Dave Smith says it is a “ridiculous notion” to think the North Queensland Cowboys are being unfairly treated.
Tensions again flared between the league and the Cowboys on Tuesday when the NRL fined North Queensland $10,000 for coach Paul Green’s explosive claim that he had no faith in the match review and judiciary process.
And Smith seemed to bristle at a press conference in Rockhampton on Wednesday when reporters suggested the Cowboys had been “robbed” and “not had the rub of the green” in the past.
He was then asked if he could assure Cowboys fans that they are not being unfairly treated.
“I think that is a ridiculous notion,” Smith said.
“One of the best games I have seen was on Saturday night at the Cowboys Stadium (when North Queensland defeated Brisbane 32-20 in an elimination final).
“I think they are going great guns.
“They’ve had a great season and I am really looking forward to seeing them play again in Sydney (in Friday night’s semi-final against the Roosters).”
Smith was also asked if he could “see where Paul Green is coming from” in light of his complaint about a lack of judiciary consistency.
“Anything that undermines the integrity of the game is completely unacceptable – that’s why he is being punished,” he said.
“The judiciary have a tough job and we have to respect that.
“The coaches are very clear on what they can or can’t say.”
The Cowboys were fined soon after Green provided his sensational explanation for why they did not fight back-rower Tariq Sims’ five-week shoulder charge ban.
“The biggest challenge for this judicial system is consistency,” he said on Tuesday.
“And me as coach and the club have no faith that there is any consistency in what they do … so we felt it was better to move on.”
NRL head of football Todd Greenberg seemed particularly livid that the club had repeated Green’s bold claim on their official Twitter account.
Green later tried to clarify his claim.
“I wasn’t questioning the integrity of the people involved, it’s the consistency and outcome,” he told Channel Nine on Tuesday night.
North Queensland last season accused the NRL of being “Sydney-centric” after a refereeing howler marred their finals exit for the second straight season.
And in April the NRL hierarchy was forced to fly to Townsville on Cowboys boss Peter Jourdain’s request to apologise for another official’s blunder in a round eight loss to Manly.
Cowboys co-captain Johnathan Thurston admitted Sims’ ban was a “massive loss” but hoped the club would not be distracted ahead of their semi-finals clash.
“We are disappointed for what has happened to Tariq but there is nothing we can do about it,” he said.
“If we keep kicking stones it will affect the way that we play.
“We just need to move on.”