Bennett backs tougher stance from NRL
Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has called for the NRL to go one step further than the newly introduced sin bin for slapping, believing that players who run in and rub an opposition player on the head after they've made a mistake should also be punished.
It's a common act in rugby league, with opposition players looking at every opportunity to let their opponent know about their mistake.
This can be through rubbing the player on the head, patting the player on the back or just simply saying a few words, but whatever it is, Bennett wants it to stop.
The master coach vented his frustration ahead of his side's Friday night match against the Gold Coast Titans, labelling the act as disrespectful.
"There are a few things we need to tidy up. The other one I can't handle is patting someone on the head when they've made a mistake," Bennett said.
"That's rubbish behaviour. It shouldn't be allowed to happen.
"I think the head tap is disrespectful. I really do. Everything we do today is about our image and that doesn't give the right image.
"When opposition players are running in and hitting you on the head or on the back because you've just made a mistake... That's not what football is about.
"I don't want my players doing that. I've told them that."
For now Bennett will have to be content with the NRL's crackdown on the slap, with referees being encouraged to use the sin bin if they see an open-handed slap to the face.
After the NRL banned punching in 2013, players quickly adapted, using the slap to let out their frustrations when a melee began.
But that will be no more, and Gold Coast Titans coach Neil Henry said it has been a long time coming after witnessing the act grow over the last few years.
"I think it's about time that they did something because it was getting a bit ridiculous, you could hold a shirt and slap someone or sort of nearly punch them," Henry said.
"It's not a good look so we'll see how they police it."
It's a move supported by the players, with many not knowing how to retaliate when they are on the end of a slap to the face.
Titans co-captain Ryan James is a big supporter of the ban after being left frustrated with the lack of punishment for the act.
James was recently cited for a shoulder charge, later escaping suspension at the judiciary, but said it would have been insulting to be punished for a good rugby league hit when players are slapping people and getting away with it.
"When I went down to the judiciary the other week I would have been filthy to get suspended with that shoulder charge," James said.
"I'd rather see people trying to tackle than slap someone so I think it's a great thing that the NRL has banned it because it's not a great image for the game."