Why Ciraldo approves of Mahoney’s chirpy ways

Jasper Bruce |

Reed Mahoney (white headgear) and Newcastle’s Jack Hetherington discuss their differences.
Reed Mahoney (white headgear) and Newcastle’s Jack Hetherington discuss their differences.

Cameron Ciraldo has encouraged Reed Mahoney to continue niggling opposition players if that’s what it takes to prevent rival teams from “walking all over” Canterbury.

And the coach said criticism of player behaviour towards referee Kasey Badger was “blown out of proportion” after last weekend’s win over Wests Tigers.

Late in the round-nine clash, Bulldogs hooker Mahoney found himself at the centre of a fracas for the second time in as many games.

Mahoney was the third man into a fray that erupted during the last 10 minutes, wearing a head-butt from the Tigers’ Alex Seyfarth as tensions boiled over.

Two weeks earlier, Mahoney and Newcastle prop Jack Hetherington had become entangled during a melee in Canterbury’s round-seven win over the Knights.

Mahoney later blamed “big-man syndrome” from his rivals for the confrontations – but NRL legends Andrew Johns and Billy Slater have warned the hooker he risked developing a reputation as a pest.

Mahoney was charged following both incidents, costing him $2800 in fines.

But in Ciraldo’s view, the 26-year-old’s antics are all part of the Bulldogs’ push to ditch their long-term tag as NRL whipping boys.

“I understand, third person running in, it can get a bit messy at times,” Canterbury’s coach said.

“But … you just want to be a team that sticks up for your mates and doesn’t let someone walk all over you.

“Our team in the past has been stood over and there’s been nothing done about it.

“They’ve made a pact this year that they’re not going to let that happen anymore and Reed’s a leader, who loves his mates.

“If something happens, he’s going to be the first one there. That’s the sort of team we want to be.”

The latest melee came after referee Badger sin-binned Tigers prop David Klemmer for dissent, having earlier warned captain John Bateman players were speaking to her too aggressively.

Badger was subject to sexist online trolling after her performance, with NRL head of football Graham Annesley later saying he did not believe players had been unduly aggressive towards her because of her gender.

Ciraldo was satisfied when it came to confronting match officials players mostly knew where the line was.

“Some of (the reaction to the players’ behaviour) got blown out of proportion,” he said.

“You never want to see refs be in that position but it’s a high-pressure environment, they’re pressure games.

“We’re going to make mistakes along the way but as long as we’re learning from it, moving on and being as respectful as we can be, that’s what we want to see.”

AAP