The Penrith Panthers have gotten their 2021 campaign off to a blistering start, but the club’s young stars have come under fire for their “cockiness” and “arrogance”.
During their round five victory over the Canberra Raiders on Friday, a brief scuffle erupted after Panthers winger Charlie Staines crossed in the corner for Penrith’s fourth try.
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In the celebrations, a fired-up Stephen Crichton grabbed opponent Joseph Tapine as he waited on the sideline to re-enter the match, which sparked the melee.
Crichton was subsequently charged with contrary conduct by the NRL judiciary and was fined $1300 with an early guilty plea.
Speaking on Fox League’s NRL 360, The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Crawley called out the Panthers players for lacking “class and respect”, citing Friday’s incident as an example.
“There was a cockiness and an arrogance, and against the Raiders on the weekend, I thought it spilt over and it crossed the line of what’s acceptable,” Crawley said on Tuesday evening.
“There’s ways to celebrate a try and ways not to celebrate a try.
“If a brawl starts there and Tapine puts on his chin, or Jack Wighton comes in and puts one on his chin and a blue starts, they get several weeks suspension.
“Yet Crichton walks away with a $1300 fine. If Penrith don’t want to do something to pull these blokes into line, then the NRL should because he should have gotten a suspension.”
Crawley suggested the Panthers’ disrespectful attitude was a sentiment shared by many within the NRL community.
“There are so many people around the game right now that are getting sick and tired of the arrogance that these blokes are showing and the lack of respect towards opposition,” Crawley said.
“People call you and ask, ‘Are you actually going to bring this up this week?’
“There’s so much to enjoy about the way Penrith play football, it’s actually a joy to watch them play. The energy, the excitement and the skill level of this team is quite incredible.
“(Panthers coach Ivan Cleary) said it the other day, that the players like to look at themselves as a source of pride for the community. That’s not behaviour that’s going to make you proud.”
Queensland great Ben Ikin pointed out: “They are young, and that’s the fine line you tread between confidence and arrogance.
“If you want this side to remain as confident as they are, as a coach do you have to accept that they will spill into arrogance from time to time?
“I just look at the ago of most of the guys in that circle, I don’t think Isaah Yeo is in there doing anything, Kurt Capewell’s having a smokeo at the back.”
Crawley replied: “Sometimes there’s 12-year olds that behave better than that … and there might be 12-year olds that carry on like thugs too.”
The Panthers have started their 2021 season with five consecutive victories, including a nailbiting win over reigning champions the Melbourne Storm.
Penrith will face the Brisbane Broncos at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Thursday evening, with kick-off scheduled for 7:50pm AEST.