Lewis asks for patience in penalties debate
Luke Lewis, in his first game back for the 2018 Telstra Premiership season, was caught up in the free-flowing night of penalties at Southern Cross Group Stadium and is still scratching his head as to why.
He was sin-binned for allegedly tripping Billy Slater then seconds later getting entangled in Ryan Hoffman's legs in the spiteful 14-4 Cronulla Sharks win over Melbourne Storm.
Lewis missed the previous three rounds with a foot injury. Friday was his 100th game in Sharks colours – his 308th in the NRL.
Like Storm skipper Cameron Smith, who was also sin-binned on Friday night, he has never been sent to the sidelines for 10 minutes before.
"I don't think I've ever been sin-binned and I still don't know what for," Lewis said.
Replays showed Lewis didn't trip Slater but he and Hoffman struggled on the ground for too long, according to senior referee Matt Cecchin.
"I still don't know what I did. I think he tread on my foot and tripped over but I never grabbed him. It's what he (Cecchin) saw at the time but I don't think it was a sin-binning.
"I'm not too stressed about it. We won, so that's all that matters."
Match: Sharks vs Storm
Venue: Southern Cross Group Stadium
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Lewis, who turns 35 later this year, is into his 18th NRL season and believes the furore over the excessive amount of penalties, compared with previous years, will blow over.
He says there will be some more pain and then it will balance out over the next few rounds.
"As a player, I'm frustrated more for the fans – not for us. To have 33 penalties, the crowds haven't come here to watch that," Lewis said.
"They've come to watch a free-flowing game, some attacking flair, some line breaks when players get a little fatigued.
"We don't get that now. But we've got to work with the refs. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks we get better at it and the game does become more free-flowing."
He knows part of the solution is club coaches and players coming to grips with referees harder viewpoint on ruck infringements like off-side, holding down in a tackle.
"It seems there are different interpretations. We might be holding for that extra second too long.
"We've got to get that happy medium from players and referees. If we can get that, we'll move forward," Lewis said.
"It's always hard at the start of the season. They (refs) train hard in off-season and work on things they want to get on top of in the game – and we work hard as well doing the same thing.
"It does take a few weeks to understand the referees point of view. I think we'll find that balance.
"Players have been in the game a long time. They know rugby league. You go with what you know so it is hard. You get caught out with a few penalties," he said.
"But it's not the same player. It's someone different every time. As a group and as a club we've got to work with the referees and get better."