NRL News: ‘Our game is finished’ – Fatty fumes at Bunker over ‘awful’ penalty, how Bennett can Cook up success at Souths


The Bunker is yet again under fire after the softest of penalty was awarded to Manly in their narrow loss to the Dolphins on Thursday night which left premiership-winning great Paul Vautin lost for words.

Dolphins skipper Jesse Bromwich was penalised after a captain’s challenge from the Sea Eagles in the second half with the score locked at 22-22 for the lightest of grazes on Tom Trbojevic’s face as he tried to wrap him up on a kick return.

Trbojevic fumbled the ball in the play-the-ball, triggering a Manly decision to challenge the incident and Bunker official Gerard Sutton pinged Bromwich for high contact which left Vauting up in arms.

“Are you serious? Our game is finished,” Fatty said in Nine commentary. “There’s not one player in the last 116 years who would say that’s a penalty.

“It is finished if you are penalising that. Honestly. I bet you the bloke who made that decision has never stepped on to a football field. What a stitch-up.

“Rugby league has died tonight.

“It was embarrassing for the game,” Vautin added after the game ended with the Dolphins getting up 30-24. “There is not one player in the last 116 years who would say that’s a penalty. This little tiny hand on the face, it was absolutely nothing.

“Gerard Sutton, now he’s a very experienced referee, been around quite a while. I can’t see how he could find fault in that. That is just wrong. I can’t even talk about it, it was that bad. It was awful.”

Cook views Bennett as recipe for success at Souths

The ingredients are in place for Wayne Bennett to become a premiership-winning coach at three different NRL clubs if he returns to South Sydney, Damien Cook says.

Bennett is all but certain to head back to the Rabbitohs next year, keeping alive the prospect of the 74-year-old winning a record-breaking title at a third NRL club.

The current Dolphins mentor has already won premierships with Brisbane and St George Illawarra, and is one shy of joining Arthur Halloway as an eight-time premiership winner.

No coach in the game’s history has won premierships at three separate clubs.

With an aging roster at the top end in South Sydney, there is an argument Bennett’s best chance of achieving that goal could come elsewhere if another job opens up.

But No.9 Cook was adamant the last-placed Rabbitohs have the cattle to return to the top of the NRL.

“We definitely can,” Cook told AAP at the ticket launch of next week’s Beer, Footy and Food Festival at North Sydney Oval.

“Because the squad is all still there. And at the moment, there’s not a lot of luck on our side.

“We’re not making our own luck, and when it rains it pours.

“But it will turn. If you look at our best 17, we haven’t had a chance to really play that team due to injuries.”

Cook’s point is underlined by the fact that this time last year the Rabbitohs sat first on the NRL ladder and looked genuine premiership contenders.

The collapse that has followed has been one of the greatest in the sport’s history, with Souths missing the 2023 finals and last week sacking coach Jason Demetriou.

Half of their squad is unavailable this week through injury or suspension, with Cook labelling it an “if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry situation”.

If Bennett does return to South Sydney, he is likely to find 12 players remaining from his 2021 squad that made the grand final.

Cook has no doubt the 74-year-old’s ‘magic dust’ would still produce results.

“It works everywhere he goes,” Cook said. “The Dolphins, it’s working there at the moment.

“There are players on the field that have that presence and aura about them: he’s that coach.”

Cook has come under scrutiny this season, at one point dropped back to reserve grade by Demetriou.

The hooker said it was hard to evaluate his own form given Souths’ run of losses, while he has also battled calf and rib issues.

Contracted until the end of next year, the 32-year-old insisted he could still reach the levels he had when at his best.

“I’ve had a couple of injuries, but I’ve actually been building well,” Cook said. “Decision making down the line has been good. Defence has been getting better each week.

“I definitely can (find my best). I was feeling the fittest and strongest I have ever been in the pre-season. Body wise, I’m feeling good. I’ve still got all the confidence, I still love the game and I still want to keep trying to improve.”

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