Graham Annesley believes Manly prop Sean Keppie wrongly got away scot-free after a high tackle that concussed South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds.
The NRL head of football, speaking at his weekly media briefing on Monday, opined that referee Gerard Sutton, the Bunker - led in this instance by senior review official Ashley Klein - and the match review committee erred by not sanctioning Keppie.
In his view, the bench forward should have been penalised, sin-binned and charged for the contact.
Keppie whacked Reynolds just after he kicked 50 seconds into the second half of the Rabbitohs' 26-12 win at Lottoland on Saturday.
The playmaker's head hit the ground and he subsequently failed a HIA, leaving him to watch from the sideline. He'll need to pass concussion protocols to face the Roosters on Friday night.
Keppie’s hit on Reynolds
"I am in a position as head of football where I have to apply my own judgement. And in my judgement, that incident should not have escaped action of some form," Annesley said.
"Certainly, should there have been a penalty? Yes, I believe there should. Should it have been a sin-bin? I think it should. Should there have been a charge? I think there should have been.
"I can't do anything about it now, of course. I don't sit on the match review committee. I'm not in the Bunker. And again, it's only my judgement.
"Whether a tackle comes off another part of the body before hitting a player in the head can be a mitigating factor, but it doesn't mean that an offence hasn't occurred.
"To me, the real question is: Was the initial contact high? We do obviously have a heavy emphasis at this stage about contact with the head or neck that's unnecessary."
Canterbury winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was sin-binned for a high tackle on Penrith general Nathan Cleary on Saturday and has accepted a two-match ban.
Annesley didn't say whether he thought Keppie should also have been suspended. He noted the match review committee generally do a good job of assessing such incidents against similar past offences so they stay consistent in their grading.
Elsewhere, Annesley said Chris Sutton, the referee in Sunday's Cronulla-Canberra clash, made the correct decision to stop play after Jack Wighton copped a head knock despite it halting the Sharks' attacking momentum as they fought back in the second half.
Cronulla coach John Morris admitted he was "really confused" about the call after his team's 12-10 defeat.
New rules stipulate that when a trainer asks the whistleblower to stop the match for an injury, the player must be interchanged or taken off for two minutes of elapsed game time before they can return.
Graham Annesley weekly football briefing - Round 2
But in the relevant situation, Sutton saw Wighton clash heads with Connor Tracey before dropping to his haunches, so he blew time off.
"I can understand why Sharks fans would say, 'Well, why are we stopping the game? [Wighton] is up on his feet, he's trying to rejoin the defensive line, we're a great attacking position'," Annesley said.
"But we clearly have an incident here where a player has received a pretty heavy head knock. Referees are encouraged where they see any kind of instability in players at all after a head knock to stop the game immediately, so a player can be assessed.
"It's obviously a player welfare issue … [The referee] has got an obligation in that scenario to stop the game."
Head-injury spotters at the match had flagged the issue for the Raiders doctor to review on video, but Sutton had already stopped play before they could act.
However, Annesley said that play should not have stopped in Thursday's Parramatta-Melbourne game when Clint Gutherson had his ankle strapped in the lead-up to his Eels taking a line drop-out.
Every try from round 2
Annesley also deemed the Bunker wrongly overturned a try to Warriors hooker Wayde Egan for a knock-on against the Knights on Friday, suggesting that ultra-slow motion replays didn't help the decision-making.
There's been some debate over the merit of the Dally M Medal voting system, where an ex-player gives votes on a 3-2-1 basis, after Roosters halfback Luke Keary didn't receive any points despite his starring performance in Sunday's 40-6 win against the Wests Tigers.
"The judging for Dally M is done by experts and there will always be various opinions about who the best players are and how many points players should get," Annesley told NRL.com.
"It's done independently of the NRL, as it should be. It's done by experts – former players. I think we just have to accept that not everyone will agree with their decisions, but over the course of a season, you’d like to think that those things even out."
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