Napa responds to Bennett comments on head clash
Roosters prop Dylan Napa has denied suggestions he intentionally led with his head in the tackle that broke Korbin Sims's jaw and left coach Wayne Bennett fuming at the Maroons enforcer and the NRL's match review committee.
Napa was penalised and sin-binned late in the nail-biting 28-22 loss to the Broncos last Friday night after colliding with Sims but he was not sanctioned for the shot by the match reviewers for the incident which has sidelined the Brisbane prop for six weeks.
Bennett hit out at the match review committee for failing to charge Napa, a view that was supported in part by NRL CEO Todd Greenberg on Monday. The veteran Brisbane coach told NRL.com that Napa had acted "recklessly and carelessly".
He claimed Napa's hit "was not an accidental head clash", but the 25-year-old chose to front the press of his own accord on Tuesday insisting there was no malice in the tackle, or that he had showboated about flooring Sims in the immediate aftermath.
"I've been playing against Korbin since I was 15, I've been playing with and against," Napa said.
"To think I would intentionally go out and try and break his jaw with my head is totally false.
"I completely understand why people may think I would have but I definitely didn't.
"Our coach Trent (Robinson) put it pretty clearly - I went in for a left shoulder tackle, as I went down he shifted to my right but I'd already committed."
Napa also refuted Bennett's suggestion he had "strutted around like a victor in a prize fight", which was supported by Broncos stalwart Sam Thaiday.
"I did get criticised for showboating for a head clash but it wasn’t until after I saw the replay I saw it was a head clash, I was excited that I'd made a big play for our team to get the ball back with less than six minutes to go," Napa said.
"I'm mates with Korbin, my thoughts are with him, I gave him a call on the weekend and hope he has a quick recovery."
Napa said he had apologised to Sims but chose to keep their conversation between them.
As one of the heaviest hitters in the Telstra Premiership, his tackling technique has come under scrutiny in the past, though he has spent little time on the sidelines throughout his 113-game career.
Two weeks ago Napa copped two charges for a high tackle and dangerous contact late in the rousing defeat of the Warriors, but was not suspended after taking early guilty pleas.
Napa declared he had no issue with Bennett's criticism as "he's been in the game probably the longest out of anyone so he's got every right to say what he wants".
Despite a torrent of criticism coming his way, Napa vowed to maintain his confrontational playing style, though did concede he carries responsibility as a defender for his opponent's safety.
"The game we play, it's a contact sport and it's going to happen. It's not the first time it's happened and it won't be the last.
"I do take responsibility of the attacker but I can't help accidents. I'm sure it's going to happen to me again, front-rowers running together, there's going to be some stuff that happens.
"I don't wish it upon anyone and I would never do it intentionally but it's just what happens."