Dowling hints at bans for NRL brawlers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dowling hints at bans for NRL brawlers

Wayne Heming and Steve Jancetic 27/08/2011 01:09:54 PM Comments (0)

Greg Dowling, the man behind rugby league's most infamous sideline stoush before Friday night's all-in brawl, claims Manly brothers Glenn and Brett could pay the price for their ongoing feud with NRL chief executive David Gallop.

Dowling, who came to blows with Kiwi prop Kevin Tamati as they made their way up the Lang Park tunnel during the 1985 Test between Australia and New Zealand, said he expected the NRL judiciary to come down hard on those involved in one of the ugliest incidents in decades.

Glenn Stewart and Adam Blair were both sent off after trading punches as they headed to the sin-bin after escalating an earlier brawl.

Brett Stewart was the first of five Manly players to join what then became an all-in brawl, his role and that of several other players who left the interchange bench to take part in the melee to come under heavy review.

While there is little doubt Glenn and Brett Stewart along with Blair all face lengthy suspensions, Dowling implied the Manly pair's long-running battle with Gallop over Brett's four-game ban at the start of the 2009 season for allegedly being intoxicated at a club season launch could come back to haunt them.

"I think they'll be pretty tough on them (Stewart brothers) especially with what's gone on over the last 12 months with Manly and them running (David) Gallop about the decisions he's made," Dowling told AAP.

"It might come back to haunt them, especially coming into the finals.

"That will hurt them.

Dowling's comments come despite Gallop - who attended his first Manly game of the year on Friday night - having no influence whatsoever over the findings of the NRL judiciary or match review committee chairman Greg McCullum, whose job it will be to dissect the incident and hand out the charges on Monday.

Earlier this year, Brett Stewart - on scoring his 100th NRL try - appeared to mock Gallop during his post-try celebration, while Glenn Stewart's cryptic comment in the lead-up to Friday night's game about Gallop's attendance added weight to the belief that the wound is still fresh.

Gallop had no desire to speculate on possible suspensions when sought out for comment just after the incident.

"Protracted fighting is absolutely not on but it is important that we leave it to the match review committee to deal with it in the proper manner," Gallop said.

The last time the NRL saw something similar to what occurred on Friday night was back in 2000, when North Queensland and Warriors players had a brawl in which a cheerleader was injured and which resulted in each club being fined $25,000.

Three players were suspended on that occasion, with the Cowboys' Brett Boyd the worst hit with a five-game ban.

A five-game ban for any of the players involved on Friday night would end their season.

Dowling, who was banned for one game as a result of his stoush with Tamati, said the Brookvale Oval fight brought back some memories, but admitted the game had moved on from those times.

"It took me back, it certainly did," Dowling said.

"I had a bit of a laugh at first but, when they went on and on, it was a bit of a shock.

"We're talking 26 years ago since my incident and, back then, it was common for blokes to go to-to-toe.

"(Brett) Stewart flying in over the top like he did, that wasn't a good look.

"Des (Manly coach Des Hasler) will need all the help he can muster to get them off."

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