North Queensland Cowboys coach Paul Green has hit back at Brisbane counterpart Wayne Bennett following comments aimed at his side by the Broncos mentor in the lead up to Friday’s Queensland derby.
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Bennett slammed Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston after the veteran said playmakers were now “open slather” to attacks by opposition defenders.
The Broncos coach labelled the Cowboys “drama queens”, saying they were aiming to deflect the focus away from their poor start to the season.
Green took aim at Bennett’s comments, with the Cowboys boss suggesting that Bennett was trying to influence referees before Friday’s clash.
“With respect to the drama queens, I’m not sure who Wayne is talking about there, but I haven’t been going on about it,” Green is quoted as saying by The Courier Mail.
“Wayne has always been a big advocate for player safety, he’s led the charge on wrestling tactics, so it surprises me that this issue isn’t a concern for him.
“In Wayne’s way, he’s probably trying to influence the refs, especially if the Broncos come out and pressure Johnathan.
“Funnily enough, when Newcastle beat us down there (in Newcastle) last year, it was the same sort of stuff (Beau Scott targeting Thurston) and Wayne was the coach of Newcastle then.
“It’s nothing new for him … it will be interesting to see if the Broncos try it.”
Green added that he was not trying to deflect attention away from the Cowboys’ winless start to 2015.
“I’m not making excuses or deflecting anything,” he said.
“I never have and I never will. I instil that in my players. I don’t blame refs, I don’t deflect blame at all.
“I am disappointed. The Roosters are a good team and we’re not the only team they will beat this year. The Newcastle game was disappointing, but it’s a tough comp and if you are off your game at all, you will get beaten.
“I don’t buy into that … we as a club are accountable.”