MONDAY MAGISTRATE: No point in playing the blame game

WITH his unruly hair, hesitant vernacular and frequent oddball behaviour, Des Hasler could well be an incarnate from the 17th century.

However, I doubt whether poet John Milton had the Bulldogs coach in mind when in 1634 he penned the phrase 'every cloud has a silver lining'.

But if the past two weekends are a yardstick, then the lamentable behaviour of Bulldogs players and fans from round five - the blame for which I lay largely at the feet of the irritable Hasler - has had a positive twist.

Not once since that ugly post-game incident that saw match officials pelted with bottles have I heard an NRL coach whinge about a refereeing decision.

Not once have I seen or heard a player aggressively approach or question a match official.

In fact, the opposite has been the case and what a refreshing change and encouraging sign that has been.

Ten days ago in Auckland, after the Tigers had a couple of 'iffy' calls go against them, coach Jason Taylor was immediately on the front foot when thrown some bait during the post-match press conference.

But instead of following the 'we was robbed' line, Taylor said 50-50 calls have to be made and sometimes they will go against his team.

"Referees are going to make mistakes because they are human. We made mistakes too. As a coach and a team, we have to take it on the chin and get on with things. We had our chances but were beaten by a better team," was his refreshing retort.

And on Saturday night, after three successive losses - one by a point and one in extra time - Roosters coach Trent Robinson had every reason to feel a tad prickly.

But like Taylor, rather than be critical of a touch-and-go decision that would have won his side the game, he was pragmatic.

"It was a 50-50 call. If the on-field referee had gone upstairs with a try, it would have been ruled a try. But he went up with no try and that was the result. And I think it was the right call," Robinson said.

And even Clint Eastwood lookalike Wayne Bennett, who could be forgiven for giving the journos a 'make my day' stare after the competition-leading Broncos fumbled their way through a 50% completion rate, remained optimistic.

"We need to overcome those deficiencies in our game, and tonight we nearly did. We are getting better," was his upbeat response to a two-point loss.

Hopefully those coaches with a bent for a grumble - Hasler, Ricky Stuart and Geoff Toovey in particular - will take on board the fact that continually blaming others is not just a poor look for the game, but can lead to player and fan unrest.

And, it doesn't endear them to a single soul.


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