Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans has encouraged serial niggler Dylan Walker not to change despite the fractured eye socket he copped.
The Sea Eagles will be without Walker for up to six weeks as he recovers from the punches which earned Melbourne centre Curtis Scott a two-match NRL ban.
Walker had engaged in a running battle with Scott during Saturday night’s match at AAMI Park and he appeared to acknowledge his provocation with a post-match Instagram post saying “Talk s…t get hit. Well done sir,” with a photo of his battered face.
Cherry-Evans on Tuesday denied Walker had overstepped the mark by verballing Scott, declaring he’d heard worse things on the field.
He also didn’t see any need for him to change his niggling ways.
“No way, Mick Ennis never had to,” Cherry-Evans said.
“It’s a part of the game. He certainly wasn’t the only one out there talking a bit of rubbish either.
“It’s a part of rugby league. This time it led to some action.”
Cherry-Evans was reluctant to wade into the debate over whether Scott’s two-match ban was adequate, given how long his punch victim was sidelined.
However he was open to change.
“That’s too hard for me to decide, sometimes it’s intentional and sometimes it’s unintentional,” said Cherry-Evans, when asked if injuries should be a factor in determining suspensions.
“That’s for the NRL to decide.
“If that was a decision that the NRL was to make, that if any form of striking led to injury, and the repercussion could match the injury, that would be fine with me.”
Several of Walkers’ teammates indicated the length of Scott’s ban sat uncomfortably with them.
“You’d like to see him get more but at the end of the day it’s (the NRL’s) decision and you have to get on with it,” Joel Thompson said.