NRL CEO Todd Greenberg agrees with Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett's view that Dylan Napa should have been charged for his head-on-head tackle on Korbin Sims but has defended the match review committee's right not to do so.
A furious Bennett spoke to NRL.com in the wake of the tackle by Napa which left Sims with a broken jaw and was scathing of the match review committee's decision not to refer the Sydney Roosters prop to a judiciary hearing.
Greenberg also believed that Napa, who was sin-binned and placed on report for the tackle in last Friday night's Telstra Premiership match at Suncorp Stadium, should have been charged but said the outcome highlighted the independence of the match review committee.
Comments by Bennett and Roosters coach Trent Robinson, who was critical of Napa's sin-binning at the post-match press conference, are being reviewed and may attract fines but Greenberg said their views highlighted the differing opinions within the game about the incident.
"My first thought was that the referees on the field did a good job," Greenberg said.
"I thought it was a good sin-bin. Ultimately then it goes to an independent process which is our match review committee.
"My personal view is player safety always comes first, and if you're going to err on the side of caution, I thought it warranted a charge. Ultimately, these are decisions which are made independently, and this highlights the process of an independent panel.
"But what I would say is that's a tackle which happened in real time. You have two experienced coaches, who I have great admiration for – they're both watching the same game, at the same time, and both have polar-opposite views of that particular tackle.
"I think that gives you some insight into the challenges the game faces."
The law of the game the match review committee would have considered in the Napa/Sims incident was 15.1 (b), the one dealing with player misconduct, which states "when affecting a tackle (a player) makes contact with the head or neck of an opponent intentionally, recklessly or carelessly".
Bennett, who has seen plenty of accidental head clashes in his lengthy career as a player and coach, said Napa's tackle "was not an accidental head clash"
"If I thought it was accidental, or there was even an element of doubt in it, I would say so but the minute I saw it live I thought 'oh my God'. I was horrified," Bennett said.
"The match review panel is there to enforce the rules of the game and forward that onto the judiciary. If the judiciary finds him not guilty we can all live with that.
"There may be mitigating circumstances, but a guy trying to avoid a collision is not a mitigating circumstance. A guy with his head forward of his body who leaves the ground to make contact with him is not concerned about the welfare of the player he is about to tackle.
"We'll never be able to prove intentionally, but we can certainly prove recklessly and carelessly."
Bennett outlined to NRL.com the reasons why he believed a charge was warranted.
"There are two defining things about this when you apply the rule book," he said.
"One is that [Napa's] head was forward of his shoulders. Normally when you go into a tackle, then your head and shoulders are in line going into a tackle. That’s how we teach tackle technique. But he was completely upright. His head was in a bent position going forward.
"The second thing is that he left the ground to make the tackle with his head in that position."
Bennett also said the game had an obligation to project the right image.
"There was a guy sent off on Saturday night because they don't want guys punching each other and that's fine," he said.
"The game doesn't want that [Napa-Sims] image either. We play a tough game and we like that toughness but there are rules and he stepped outside the rules.
"There have to be consequences and not being forwarded to the judiciary is not acceptable."
The Brisbane coach received support from veteran forward Sam Thaiday on Monday.
"Wayne has been very vocal about it and I back Wayne one hundred per cent," Thaiday said.
The reaction by Roosters players after Sims was knocked senseless also disappointed the Broncos.
"I understand we play a contact sport and sometimes players get injured and big tackles occur in our game," Thaiday said.
"But I took offence when they were celebrating the tackle when we have a player laying on the ground that is injured."