Cowboys coach Paul Green sparked a war of words with his St George Illawarra counterpart Paul McGregor after accusing Dragons forward Tariq Sims of a late and high tackle on North Queensland captain Michael Morgan in the Cowboys' loss on Friday night.
Sims hit Morgan as he passed the ball in the 45th minute and the Cowboys playmaker was forced from the field for the remainder of the game after failing a HIA assessment but match officials didn't feel the tackle warranted any action.
However, Green – a member of the NRL competition committee that recommended tougher action on crusher tackles and late shots on playmakers – claimed the match officials should have acted after the NRL announced a crackdown this week.
"I thought it was late and high," Green said. "He didn't come back on. They bought it up in the NRL about protecting ball players after they play, we saw it in a different way there tonight.
"They'll look at the tackle and it was spoken about in that [competition committee] meeting about protecting the ball players once they have passed the ball. If they have relaxed, they're the dangerous ones with the whiplash and it can cause concussion.
McGregor: Green needs to 'zip his mouth':
"I am not saying that was the case, I haven't had a good enough look at this particular tackle but it has been spoken about in the game and how we have to protect the ball players too."
Asked to respond to Green's comment's McGregor fired back and noted that the Cowboys coach had this week been critical of NSW coach Brad Fittler for singling out a late tackle by North Queensland forward Josh McGuire on Blues playmaker James Maloney during last Sunday's Origin II.
"He blows up a fair bit," McGregor said of Green. "He had a go at Freddie last week too. He has got a lot to say."
McGregor said he had no concerns about Sims being charged by the match review committee over the tackle, which resulted in a scrum feed to the Dragons after a forward pass.
"Am I comfortable with the tackle, absolutely," McGregor said. "He wrapped his arms around him, how can you stop in that momentum. It was looked at, there was a scrum packed, move on. Zip his mouth."
The loss of Morgan was a significant blow to North Queensland and the Dragons gained the lead for the first time in the match when Matt Dufty scored four minutes later.
Young halfback Jake Clifford was forced to assume full responsibility for his side's kicking game and after playing strongly in the first half he fell away towards the end of the game without Morgan by his side.
Match Highlights: Dragons v Cowboys
"That's going to happen when your main half goes off the field," Green said. "Our forwards aimed up but losing Morgo obviously made a huge difference to that. Whenever that happens to one of your halves you are not too happy about it."
Green was also unhappy about a forward pass call late in the match as North Queensland fought back from 22-10 down to score four minutes from full-time.
"Our last three weeks have been a one-point loss, a two-point loss and tonight," he said. "We got a try taken off us for a forward pass which I am a bit bemused by, I can't see how that was a forward pass from where I was sitting but they seem to find them against us so that is frustrating.
"Given the closeness of the competition, for us in particular with the injuries we have got, we need a couple of those close calls to start going our way."