The sin bin seems to have become amythical place that league referees hold over athletes,threatening to send them thereif they behave badly butmore often than not it’s an empty threat.

The most recentround in the NRL saw a few decisions made by players that should have warranted a closer call with the bin than they actually received.

Josh Hodgson’s neck twist on Jesse Bromwich, Ryan James tackle on James Tedesco and Waqa Blake’s contact on Jake Mamo are the highlight offences, but James Graham, David Shillington andZane Musgrove committed offences whichwere also worthy of a sin binning aspossibly was Blake Ferguson’s contact on Kyle Feldt.

The idea in my mind for the sin bin is to use it topunish players and teams who injure players,intentionally orrepeatedlyperform actsofmisconduct or dangerous conductduring play.

By my standards Josh Hodgson, Ryan James and even my own team’s Waqa Blake should have been sin binned. There are some out there who say intention should also come into play in the sin bin situation but it’s easy for a playerto claim their action was unintentional, just look at Josh Reynolds and his tripping situation last month.

The sin bin also serves a function besides punishment – that is to weed out the misconduct from the game. We don’t want to see the likes of David Shillington’s dangerous contact on Mitchell Moses, who thought he was safe from contact having kicked the ball clear of himself and was mid-air.

The NRL’s one punch rule is a success story of how a straight sin bin ruling can be effective and improve the safety and conduct of the game and players.

To their credit the NRL referees have used the sin bin 16 times this year, once against theKnights,Bulldogs,Raiders,Sharks,Sea Eagles andEels, twice against theTitans,Warriors andRoosters and an amazing four times against the Storm.In the previous10 yearsfrom 2005 to 2015, the sin bin has been used a total of 244times.

Perhaps it’s now time to introduce some more straight sin binning offences, or at the very least, introduce a shorter sin bin giving the referees more options for punishment, the modern game now moves at a pace where even a five minute sin bin would be a hindrance to a team.

Whatever thedecisionneeds to be introduced quicklytomake rulingsconsistent.

Matthew Chown

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