The Chronicle

Panthers: ’Childish’ Rabbitohs won’t get under our skin


PANTHERS supremo Brian Fletcher has hit back at South Sydney, labelling the Rabbitohs “childish” and insisting their high-level “whinging” will not derail Penrith’s quest for a breakthrou­gh premiershi­p under Ivan Cleary.

Penrith’s hierarchy is furious at Souths lodging a formal complaint with the NRL over Panthers trainer Hayden Knowles.

Souths emailed NRL head of football Graham Annesley to raise concerns over Knowles entering the field of play 13 times during Penrith’s preliminar­yfinal defeat of the Storm.

The Rabbitohs’ missive comes just three weeks after Wayne Bennett and Cleary waged a war of words after the Souths coach accused the Panthers of illegal blocking to protect playmaker Nathan Cleary.

Fletcher launched a passionate defence of Knowles and says Penrith will not be fooled by Souths’ attempt at psychologi­cal warfare in an explosive preamble to the biggest game of the NRL season at Suncorp.

“It is childish stuff if that’s all Souths have got to worry about,” Fletcher said. “If they are worried about that (Knowles’ activities), then hopefully it’s a distractio­n, because they won’t get under our skin. Souths were whinging about the blockers before our last game and that is a standard thing. Every team in the NRL does the same thing.

“If Souths want to worry about the rules, that’s their problem. We have our eyes on the prize and that’s all we care about.

“They can try and get under our skin but we have experience­d people and we are focused on winning the premiershi­p.

“If they are trying to unsettle us, they might have to think of something else.”

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett said he was staying out of the crossfire.

“I’ve got no comment. It’s got nothing to do with me,” he said. “Ring our chief executive.”

Under NRL rules, trainers are restricted to entering the field of play three times in each half to deliver messages to players when their team has the ball.

There is a view Knowles is breaking the rules by unnecessar­ily involving himself in play.

 ?? ?? Hayden Knowles.
Hayden Knowles.

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