Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy is leaving the interference rulings up to NRL officials after Billy Slater copped criticism from NRL legends Peter Sterling and Brad Fittler about diving in recent weeks.
Slater was involved in two incidents to get opponents sin-binned – Sharks veteran Luke Lewis in round six and Newcastle’s Lachlan Fitzgibbon last Friday – where the fullback appeared to hit the deck with minimal contact.
Bellamy said he received an email from NRL high-performance referees coach Michael Maguire recently reinforcing that interference on players trying a quick tap would be costly.
“The referees have decided to clamp down on certain things, or been told to clamp down on certain things,” Bellamy said.
“One of those things is interference when you take quick taps. It’s up to the referees on how much contact you need for that to be interference. There was certainly contact made in both instances, and the referees at the time decided there was enough contact to put the offender in the sin bin.
“At the end of the day, it’s out of our hands. We’ve had that happen last year to us as well – in the semi-finals, it was pretty critical for us.
“We had a pretty strong email about two or three weeks ago from Michael Maguire who said anyone interfering on guys who take quick taps would be sent to the sin bin. Now, how much contact you have to make to get sent to the bin, I’m not sure. It’s up to the referees, and that what’s happened.”
The Storm mentor will renew his rivalry with Wayne Bennett this Friday with the Brisbane Broncos coming off an upset win over the Warriors in Auckland.
“Their form last week was outstanding against the Warriors,” he said.
“They’ve found form again, and we found a little bit of form last week ourselves. “
There will be almost 1200 NRL games worth of coaching experience at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Bellamy leads the head-to-head numbers against Bennett-coached teams, winning 22 of 32 games spanning the last 15 years.
“You always want to do well against the opposing team,” he said.
“Wayne’s probably the most successful coach in our code – I don’t know how long he’s been going, but a bloody long time.
“He’s won more premierships with his team than any other coach, and I think he’s coached 800 games or something now.
“What he’s done has been quite remarkable. I never look at the contest between coaches – it’s a contest between two footy teams. We’re all involved, whether we’re coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, whatever it is – it’s a club effort.
“I spent five years at that club (the Broncos) under Wayne and really enjoyed my time there, learned a lot there, and I’ll be forever grateful for the Broncos for giving me that opportunity.
“I’m sure if I didn’t get that opportunity, I probably won’t have been here and spent as long as I have been here. I’ll always be indebted to the Broncos for that.”
The Storm welcome centre Will Chambers back from suspension but lock Dale Finucane is at least a couple of weeks away as he nurses a thumb injury.