Panthers trainer suspended for rest of NRL season, club fined $25,000

The NRL has taken strong action against Penrith for deliberately breaching the code’s rules in the dying minutes of Saturday night’s controversial semi-final against Parramatta.

Trainer Pete Green has been suspended for the remainder of the NRL season after he asked for time to be stopped to treat injured hooker Mitch Kenny, despite the rules stating that he could only do so after an initial assessment. Green wasn’t even on the field at the time the match was stopped.

The Panthers were also fined $25,000, while fellow trainer Hayden Knowles was also issued with a warning.

Green was issued a show-cause notice in round 14 for a similar incident involving Viliame Kikau against the Cronulla Sharks. The fact it was his second strike weighed into the NRL’s consideration.

The NRL rules state the trainer must carry out an “initial assessment” before asking for the game to be brought to a halt due to “serious injury”.

That did not occur. Parramatta were ropeable as to why, despite Kenny suffering an ankle injury that will rub him out of this week’s game, time was stopped to attend to a player who was injured in back play and didn’t have an impact on the set of six.

Two Parramatta trainers (circled) are the only trainers on the field seconds before time was called off for Mitch Kenny (circled right).Credit:Nine

At the time, the Eels had an eight-on-six overlap to the left. However, the decision to call time off for trainers to attend to Kenny allowed the Panthers’ defence to regroup and add substitute Tevita Pangai jnr into what would have been a 12-man defensive unit.

Nine commentator Phil Gould took aim at the NRL for playing a part in the events that unfolded in the Eels-Pantheres clash.

“If you keep making stupid, pedantic rulings and be influenced by social media in trying to shape your game, then you’re going to end up with this,” Gould said on 100% Footy.

“And the top coaches and the top players and the referees will make a mockery of you the closer you get to the big games. And there were a number of instances on the weekend where players made a mockery of the rules. And there are a number of times where the rules have come back against us.

Penrith trainer Pete Green has been banned for the rest of the NRL season.Credit:NRL Photos

“It’s reported that the Panthers made 15 interchanges on the weekend. Fifteen interchanges! When you take into (consideration) HIAs, every time we put a player on report now … So every time you go back three tackles and the bunker wants to put someone on report for some innocuous incident, that gives a free interchange to the other team.”

When time was called off by Klein, the Panthers trainers weren’t even by Kenny’s side. The only trainers on the field when the Panthers called time off were two of Parramatta’s.

“No, you can’t stop the play,” Eels legend Peter Sterling fumed during Nine’s broadcast, before adding to his views in the post-game show.

“That was late in the game when you are on a roll, it is third tackle. The worst thing that can happen to you with the football in your hand is for the opposition to get a rest. His was foot was stood on. He did leave the field, it worked.”

The NRL released a statement on Tuesday.

“The National Rugby League (NRL) has issued the Penrith Panthers with a Breach Notice proposing the club be fined $25,000 and the club’s orange trainer suspended from accessing the field of play and sideline for the remainder of the 2021 season after an alleged breach of the game’s Operations Manual.”

“The Breach Notice alleges the Club’s Orange Trainer stopped play incorrectly in the 76th minute of Saturday night’s NRL Telstra Premiership Final against the Parramatta Eels. The Manual makes it clear that a Head Trainer can only stop play after making an initial assessment that circumstances require a doctor to enter the field of play.

“The NRL has also issued a warning to the Club’s Blue Trainer for his role in the stoppage. The club will be permitted to use an alternative staff member in the Orange trainer role for the remainder of the season to ensure the welfare of Panthers players. The Panthers have 5 business days to respond to the Breach Notice. A provisional suspension applies until the Club’s response has been received.”

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