In an unveiled swipe at the Penrith Panthers, Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart says melees are a blight on the game that are making soft people look tough because they know they're not going to get a punch in the mouth.
He's called on the NRL to stamp it out of the game, while also pointing out the Panthers players disappeared pretty quickly when Jack Wighton stepped in to calm things down.
That's despite multiple cases of trainers and physios touching players involved in melees going unpunished this season already.
The Raiders were preparing a written response to the breach notice on Friday, with the view to having the sanction reduced.
Panthers fullback Stephen Crichton was only fined $1350 even though he started the melee by dragging Raiders lock Joe Tapine, who was standing on the sideline waiting to come on, into a Penrith try celebration.
It's prompted ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys to rules needed to be changed to allow Crichton to receive a bigger fine.
The melee also enveloped the Canberra physio before Wighton stepped in to restore order.
It's led to the Panthers players being labelled arrogant. Stuart went a step further.
"I agree with the no-punch rule, but this is what it's created," he said. "It makes soft people tough because you know you're not going to get punched in the head. There's no consequences.
"You've got guys who are not that courageous, acting very tough going into a melee now knowing the fact he's not going to get a punch in the mouth, which is why so many people fly into it."
MORE RAIDERS NEWS
Stuart chuckled at how quickly the melee dissipated when Wighton stepped in to defend the Raiders physio - who had just touched Panthers prop James Fisher-Harris on the shoulder. The New Zealand prop turned to confront the physio, with Wighton breaking things up.
Stuart said there were things the NRL could do to stop these incidents, but said it was up to the governing body to come up with them.
"The thing that I laughed [about] watching it was when our physio got pushed out of the way, Jack Wighton came in to the melee to sort it out, settle it all down and a lot of egos that were in that melee were deflated very quickly," he said. "You don't find tough kids walking into these melees and pulling and pushing jumpers. If you're a good pusher nowadays you're tough.
"It's a blight on our game. I just wish the league would do something about it and eradicate it.
"It was only four or five years ago I was saying it was ugly in Aussie rules and now we've got it."
Stuart was proud of how Tapine reacted - the Kiwi international did everything in his power not to get involved, despite being surrounded by up to seven Panthers players.
At one stage he was being dragged into the melee by Crichton, while Tyrone May was jerking at the back of his jersey from behind.
Stuart revealed controlling his emotions was something Tapine had been working on - and said his powerful forward was much better at it than he was himself.
"The amount of work that's gone into Joe Taps in controlling his aggression and controlling his emotions, I was very proud of how he handled that moment because it could've been very, very ugly and I don't know if I could've handled it the same way Joe did," he said.
NRL ROUND SIX
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Parramatta Eels at Canberra Raiders, 7.35pm.
Raiders squad: 1. Caleb Aekins, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker (c), 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (c), 10. Sia Soliola, 11. Hudson Young, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Joe Tapine. Interchange: 14. Tom Starling, 15. Ryan Sutton, 16. Siliva Havili, 17. Emre Guler. Reserves: 18. Sebastian Kris, 19. Matt Frawley, 20. Corey Harawira-Naera, 21. Dunamis Lui.
Eels squad: 1. Clinton Gutherson (c), 2. Maika Sivo, 3. Tom Opacic, 4. Marata Niukore, 5. Blake Ferguson, 6. Will Smith, 7. Mitchell Moses, 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 9. Reed Mahoney, 10. Junior Paulo, 11. Shaun Lane, 12. Ryan Matterson, 13. Nathan Brown. Interchange: 14. Oregon Kaufusi, 15. Isaiah Papali'i, 16. Keegan Hipgrave, 17. Bryce Cartwright. Reserves: 18. Joey Lussick, 19. Haze Dunster, 20. Wiremu Greig, 21. Jordan Rankin.