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Former Aussie skipper Michael Clarke slammed for ‘knowing nothing’ about NRL in fiery interview


Michael Clarke was accused of ‘knowing nothing about rugby league’ as he and veteran journalist Phil Rothfield were involved in a heated radio spat over referee Ashley Klein’s handling of a brutal clash between the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney.

The Rabbitohs beat their arch-rivals 30-14 in an explosive elimination final at Allianz Stadium on Sunday that featured a record seven sin-bins, several high tackles and saw five players sent for a Head Injury Assessment – of which three failed.

Bunnies prop Tom Burgess and his teammate Taane Milne, Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and winger Joseph Sualii were all charged by the NRL judiciary.

Referee Ashley Klein sin-binned a record seven players on Sunday at Allianz Stadium

Referee Ashley Klein sin-binned a record seven players on Sunday at Allianz Stadium 

Speaking on the Big Sports Breakfast on Sky Sports Radio on Monday morning, however, Clarke criticised Klein’s handling of the game.

The former Australian cricket captain said he felt he was watching an ‘under 10s’ game, because of how Klein officiated the clash at Allianz Stadium.

‘I feel like it’s under 10s. Yeah there were some head highs, I agree with that Buzz [Rothfield] But please, it’s not touch footy give me a break.’

Clarke, who co-hosts the Big Sports Breakfast with former New South Wales legend Laurie Daley, then went on to argue Klein should have ‘set a standard at the start of the game’.

Victor Radley was yellow carded just four minutes into the game on Sunday

Victor Radley was yellow carded just four minutes into the game on Sunday

Rothfield argued that the referee had in fact tried to set his stall out early doors,  when he sin-binned Roosters firebrand Victor Radley just four minutes into the contest.

However, he noted players were no longer afraid of being yellow carded, because the NRL has ‘the world’s softest judiciary’ and were prepared to push the boundaries as far as they could.

‘Players will risk going to the sin bin, but they know they’ll be fine and they won’t get a decent suspension like what used to happen in the old days,’ he said.

‘Until players start getting suspended for their actions, nothing will change. The sin bin doesn’t work anymore.’

Michael Clarke argued on the Big Sports Breakfast on Monday that Klein had lost control of the game and he refereed it like it was an 'under 10s' contest

Michael Clarke argued on the Big Sports Breakfast on Monday that Klein had lost control of the game and he refereed it like it was an ‘under 10s’ contest

But veteran NRL journalist Phil Rothfield accused him of knowing nothing about rugby league

But veteran NRL journalist Phil Rothfield accused him of knowing nothing about rugby league

Clarke suggested there should have been no more than three sin-bins in the game, prompting Rothfield to ask whether he had watched the game at all.

‘Mate, it’s the NRL. It’s at the highest level. That’s the sport. 

‘It’s like you know what? Don’t bowl bouncers in cricket. Because if it hits you in the head it hurts […] you have to pitch the ball up only. That’s what we’re trying to create in rugby league. […] The refereeing was rubbish.’

Clarke then argued Burgess should have been sent off for his high-tackle on James Tedesco, which resulted in the Roosters skipper failing a HIA.

Radley was one of two players to be sin-binned twice during a brutal encounter

Radley was one of two players to be sin-binned twice during a brutal encounter 

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves faces up to a four-game ban after a brutal hit on Tom Burgess

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves faces up to a four-game ban after a brutal hit on Tom Burgess

Burgess was charged with a Grade 2 High Tackle Careless offence for the incident. He faces up faces up to three weeks out if he chooses to contest the charges, or a two-game ban with an early guilty plea. 

The England international will, at a minimum, be banned for the Bunnies’ semi-final with Cronulla on Saturday and for the preliminary final against Penrith, should Souths make it that far.

‘If that’s not inconsistency right in front of you I don’t know what is,’ Clarke said, suggesting Klein should have sent Burgess off.

Rothfield quickly interjected: ‘If you knew more about rugby league, right. You know nothing about it.’

Burgess himself faces a two-game ban after being charged for a high tackle on James Tedesco

Burgess himself faces a two-game ban after being charged for a high tackle on James Tedesco

The discussion got progressively more heated and Clarke fired back at the veteran Daily Telegraph journalist.

‘You know everything because you played 100 Test matches? Continue,’ he said. 

‘You watch the same TV I watch. I’ve watched it for 41 years, you’ve watched it for 80. You’ve played the exact same amount of Origin games as me.’

Rothfield then added the clash at Allianz Stadium was ‘a shocking advertisement’ for rugby league, absolving Klein of any responsibility as ‘he would not have sent one of those guys off to the sin bin, without backing from the bunker.’



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