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The sin bin has become an important part of the game since Newtown’s tough little hooker Barry Jensen was its very first inmate way back in 1981.
Any players not aware of the use of the bin, or the impact it can have on their team’s success or failure, have either just arrived from another planet or are named Jaydn Su’A.
A recent Roar article considered whether the bin was over-used or just not used enough, and opinions were split, but if used correctly, the sin bin is an excellent refereeing tool.
It can be to punish foul play, restore order and defuse potential violent flare-ups in a game looking to get out of hand, and to punish teams that continually breach the rules through professional fouls.
However, it could do with a bit of a clean-up and some tweaking, and it also needs to be used consistently in order to avoid some of the anomalies we’ve seen already this year. Here’s where it needs to change:
1. If it’s on report, it’s in the bin
Ten minutes in the bin should be mandatory for all incidents where a player is put on report for foul play, even if that player is playing a home game for Melbourne.
If the referee believes that the offending player’s infringement is serious enough to be not only penalised, but also put on report for potential further sanction, then it should also result in a stint in the sin bin.
No ifs, no buts, just a consistent approach in every game and every round.
In the early rounds of the competition so far, it’s as if some games are being refereed under different rules to others, as some players put on report were also put in the bin, while others were allowed to play on. This has to stop.
2. You get the whole ten minutes
One of the important uses of the sin bin is to reduce the incidence of professional fouls, and while this works to some extent, there is still a problem.
How often do we see teams continually infringe in the dying moments of a game, particularly in their own 20, knowing that it’s preferable to have one of their players go to the bin for a couple of minutes than let the opposition attack flow freely.
Players continue to push the envelope, safe in the knowledge that with say just two minutes remaining on the clock, the ten-minute sin bin penalty will actually be limited to those two remaining minutes.
In that instance, it’s well worth the risk, and it’s almost a badge of honour to be the player heading to the sheds a couple of minutes early, having successfully slowed down the opposition attack and given your team a breather.
The best way to fix this is that if a team has a player sent to the bin with less than ten minutes to go, then that team starts the next game a player short until the whole ten-minute penalty has been served.
The player serving the remaining sentence will be either the offending player from the previous match, provided that he is named in the run-on team, or another player chosen by the opposition. That will fix it!
3. And what about the Bunker
The Bunker is involving itself more and more in the game, whether at the referee’s request or at their own initiative, and it has lead to some anomalies.
In one game during Round 3, the Bunker advised the referee that a player from the defending team should be put on report for an incident of foul play, which occurred a few tackles previously.
The referee duly placed the player on report, however no penalty was blown for the infringement, the reported player did not go to the bin, and play continued. Absolutely no benefit to the offended team.
For the sake of consistency, if the incident is serious enough for the Bunker to stop play to advise the referee of an incident, a penalty should be given against the offending team, the offending player placed on report, and sent to the bin.
The Bunker should stay out of any incidents that don’t merit a report and sin bin.
4. Get off the field!
How often do we see a player cop ten minutes in the bin and stand there looking dumbfounded and questioning the referee’s decision, before reluctantly walking slowly from the field, sometimes delaying play for two or three minutes.
This gives the offending team additional time to take a breather, grab a drink, have a chat to the trainer and reset their defence, and is not only boring in the extreme, but also takes away some of the disadvantage of having a player go to the bin in the first place.
To solve this problem, the player should be instructed to leave the field of play by the shortest possible route, and if this takes longer than 30 seconds, he should have his time in the sin bin increased to 15 minutes.
If the NRL makes that change, I guarantee players will be sprinting to the bin.
The sin bin’s here to stay, it’s not working as well as it could, so we may as well make the best of it and tidy it up.