South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has backed the NRL's tough stance over off-field incidents and believes misbehaving players will soon get the message they are risking their careers and livelihoods.
However, the NRL's longest serving and most successful coach used his first captain's run press conference since joining the Rabbitohs to question some of the comments from rivals and others in game about the off-season drama.
"There have been a few drama queens out there to be honest with you," Bennett said in response to suggestions the 2019 pre-season had been the worst in the game's history.
"I am not comparing off-seasons. It happened, it will happen again in the future - it won't be perfect in the future, it never is - but we are more geared to handle it now and everybody knows where they stand so we can move on."
Bennett supported the ARL Commission's decision to introduce the "no fault stand down" policy for players defending serious criminal charges, which has sidelined St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin, Manly centre Dylan Walker and Penrith playmaker Tyrone May until their cases conclude.
In addition, Ben Barba has been sacked by North Queensland, Wests Tigers were refused permission to register a contract for Zane Musgrove and the future of Parramatta forward Peni Terepo is in doubt after he was stood down by the club following an incident on a flight last weekend.
Roosters v Rabbitohs - Round 1
"I think with what had happened necessitated that type of decision to show everybody that the game was fair dinkum and we are about protecting the game. No one is bigger than the game," Bennett said.
"We all know where we stand now, there are no grey areas. We had an incident the other day where someone was coming home on a plane and he is out of a job now.
"They will get the message when they start realising that the game is not going to have a place for them anymore."
'Players will get the message': Bennett backs stand down policy
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said during a panel discussion and forum on Fox League's League Life program on Wednesday night that players whose registration was cancelled after an off-field incident would find it much harder to return to the game.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart told the program he was "not as proud" of the game because of the string of off-field incidents which prompted the ARLC to change its policy towards players with court appearances pending.
Asked if he could understand where Stuart was coming from, Bennett said: "No I can’t actually."
The seven-time premiership winning coach accused others in the game of adding to the hysteria over the off-season problems.
"I can't believe some of the silly statements that they have all made when they earn a living from this game. They have all been a part of it for so long and they have seen so many things," Bennett said.
"We have had a bit of a tough period but we have had them before and we have managed them and we have moved on."