NRL greats Peter Sterling and Brad Fittler have questioned the controversial binning of Knights star James Gavet, that invited the Bulldogs comeback victory on Friday night.
Gavet was punished for a late hit on Bulldogs lock Chris Smith midway through the second half.
The imbalance saw Dean Pay’s men pile on three tries within 13-minutes to stun the hosts 20-14 by full-time, prompting Fittler to express his concern over the consequences of cotton-balling the league’s play-makers.
“There’s going to come a stage though where someone holds back and the playmaker dummies and goes and scores,” Fittler told VB’s Friday Night Knock Off.
“It’s not extremely late or bad, but there’s going to be a time when the ball runner dummies, someone will hold off because they don’t want to be sin binned, and they’ll go through for sure.
“We talk about taking the grubbiness out and the toughness in and its obvious they’ve changed their view on it and they’ve gotten more severe.
“We do need the game as clean as possible but, we need baby steps sometimes.”
Sterling conceded he felt the call may have been a tad harsh but ultimately pointed to the game’s growing inclination to protect its playmakers.
“The sin binning is a line ball one,” he said.
“We’re all into player welfare and this should have been stamped out much earlier than some decisions this season.
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“Its close…it all comes down to whether it’s late or not and that was a tight one.
“I’ve seen worse ones but looking after our play makers if we’re going to err we err on that side.
“It really does look worse in slo-motion, its one of those ones you have to watch in fast motion because that the only way you can make a judgment as to the lateness of it and the impact.”
Fittler believed that although the decision to bin Gavet may have been contentious, the Knight did have a small window of opportunity to pull out from the tackle unlike Dragons star Tariq Sims’ similar incident in round 16 that saw him miss the Origin decider.
“If I compare it to the Tariq sims one I’d say at least he had a chance to see the ball go I feel,” he said.
“The Tariq one he had less chance to see the ball and I don’t think that will help James Gavet when he goes to the judiciary.”