South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has expressed his disappointment with a lack of discipline by Sam Burgess after the Rabbitohs captain was placed on report for a high tackle and conceded another penalty for foul play in Saturday night’s 39-24 loss to Cronulla.
Burgess, who was making his return from a nine-week stint on the sideline after shoulder surgery, is likely to miss next Sunday’s clash with Melbourne if he is charged over either incident as he has been fined twice this season for contrary conduct and was last year suspended for dangerous contact.
The England star was placed on report for a high shot on Sharks fullback Matt Moylan in just the fourth minute. Referee Adam Gee also penalised him in the 55th minute for rubbing his elbow into the face of rival captain Paul Gallen.
Sharks five-eighth Shaun Johnson kicked a penalty goal on both occasions giving up four easy points to the Sharks.
Bennett said the penalties and a 68 per cent completion rate had cost his side dearly, with the Rabbitohs in danger of dropping out of the top four if beaten by the Storm next weekend.
Match Highlights: Sharks v Rabbitohs
"Sam is an important part of the team, we would like to have him next week against Melbourne but we will have to wait and see now. It is out of our control," Bennett said.
'I am not happy with that, Sam’s been out for a number of weeks and I just wanted him to come back, lead us from the front and stay within the rules of the game.
"He will have to get that off his conscious, I suppose. It was not what we needed at the time and there was no reason for it.
"Of course his aggression is important, I want him to play with aggression. I want them all to play with aggression but there are rules and you have got to stay within those parameters.”
Asked if he was referring to the high tackle or the incident with Gallen, Bennett said: “Whatever you want to mention”.
Responding to a suggestion Burgess had simply been guilty of overly enthusiasm after being out for so long, Bennett said: "Well, it was the only time all night we were overly enthusiastic."
The seven-times premiership winning coach described Souths performance as the worst of the season and was at a loss to explain why they had not been able to match the intensity of a Cronulla team, who have now jumped from 10th place to seventh.
"Out-played, out-enthused … we haven't been like that all season," Bennett said.
"We have been good, there is no reason why we couldn't turn up tonight and play with a lot more enthusiasm. I don't have a reason for it right now.
Sam Burgess placed on report for tackle on Moylan
"We did what all the losing teams do, we had multiple errors, dropped balls, penalties, missed tackles. They're the characteristics of a losing team and we were one of those tonight. We were way off our game.
"Other than [against] Parramatta, when we had a lot of Origin players missing and about eight injuries, we have had pretty good performances, even though we have lost a few games. But that was our worst performance of the season."
However, Bennett was confident the Rabbitohs could bounce back quickly.
"They have got to get their heads right, that's where the work needs to be done," he said. "It doesn’t need to be done on the field or anything like that. They have just got to work out why they turned up here tonight the way they did.
"They came off a great win last week against a team [St George Illawarra] that was desperate and we knew this team would be desperate tonight to try and stay in the eight and all that. They [Sharks] probably had their best team that they have had all season so we knew what we were coming too, we just didn't want to get in the game."