NRL Rd 3 - Rabbitohs v Roosters
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 25: Latrell Mitchell of the Rabbitohs celebrates with Alex Johnston of the Rabbitohs after scoring a try during the round three NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters at Accor Stadium, on March 25, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley has issued a warning to players following the ugly end to last week’s match between Newcastle and South Sydney that saw David Klemmer sent from the field.

Annesley suggested that Klemmer should not have been sent off following his confrontation with Rabbitohs back-rower Keaon Koloamatangi, but also took aim at Latrell Mitchell for getting involved in the fracas in his first outing as club captain.

“Although it was full-time and there are always time pressures to get the players off the field and make sure nothing else can eventuate, we felt the sin bin was probably a better option (for Klemmer) in that case,” Annesley said.

“Another aspect of that was Latrell Mitchell running in. He could have very easily seen himself in the sin bin as well.

“We do see players charged or sent to the sin bin for that type of action. My recommendation to any player who doesn’t want to find themselves in the sin bin is that if you’re not involved, stay out of it.”

While Klemmer has escaped suspension and received a $1000 fine, an incident from a week ago – where the Knights enforcer was sent to the sin bin for getting involved in a similar scuffle – illustrated the inconsistencies in officiating such off-the-ball incidents.

“I’m not for a moment suggesting that Latrell did anything other than try and run in to pull Klemmer off,” Annesley stated.

“Even if they’re just trying to separate players, our advice is always ‘if you’re not in it, stay out of it’. It’s much easier for the referee to handle if he’s only dealing with two players.

“What happens is when one player decides he’s going to run in, other players see him and follow.

“Then we get the grabbing and holding each other by jerseys and pushing, then the referee has a much bigger incident to resolve.”