Geoff Toovey lashes the NRL refs

The greatest NRL coach blow ups of the modern era

There are two things you need to know about the NRL: They love to dish out a fine and they hate to have their referees bagged.

Which is perhaps why the NRL was so heavy-handed when giving rookie Bulldogs coach Dean Pay a whopping $25,000 breach notice.

That came after Pay made an emotional plea for answers to some critical decisions he claimed cost his Bulldogs victory against the Brisbane Broncos.

Dean isn't the first to pay the price for speaking his mind.

Ever since Dave Smith was CEO from 2013-14, the NRL has become ruthless with its fine system. Here are some of the great coach blow ups since then that have earned the ire of the NRL.

Losers unite to lash NRL

Cronulla and Manly were both bundled out of the NRL finals in week one last season, which both of their coaches took rather poorly.

Sharks mentor Shane Flanagan  hit with a breach notice of $30,000 after he labelled the officiating as "disgraceful" and read from a list he had made of their 'mistakes'.

And Trent Barrett from Manly was hit with a $20,000 fine for questioning the NRL Bunker's role in their loss to Penrith.

"To have our season decided by two video referee calls that in my opinion weren't correct is extremely tough to take," he said.

"What I would like is the Bunker and (referees boss) Tony Archer and the referees to go into my shed and explain to my players that their season is now finished on the back of those two calls."

Robbo goes troppo

The Roosters mentor usually keeps his cool and comes across publicly with a calm demeanour.

But that all unravelled in a 20-18 loss to the Dragons on Anzac Day in 2015, when Robbo launched into referee Ben Cummins.

"Ben has been horrible and disrespectful to our players for many years and it has continued," he said in part of his spray.

"We have had a good high percentage win rate until this year ... he speaks poorly to our players. He won't look them in the eye.

"The way that he spoke to (captain) Jake (Friend) during the game was unacceptable."

Needless to say, the NRL was not amused and slugged him with a $40,000 fine.

Toovey becomes a meme 

The most iconic referee blow up has to go to Geoff Toovey, from his time at the helm at Manly.

After losing to South Sydney 22-10 in 2013, you could almost literally see the steam pouring out of Toovey's ears.

"There's got to be an investigation into this," he fumed over a no-try decision and the overall penalty count.

"Someone has to be accountable for this. And they have to be accountable for the penalty count.

"Aren't we meant to have the best referees for this game. Are they the best referees we have?"

He was fined and his spray forever repeated as a meme whenever a coach sprays a ref.

Stuart the master of the blow up

There is no coach in the modern NRL era who has earned the ire of the NRL quite like Sticky Stuart.

In the middle of the 2015 season, he had already racked up 10 fines totalling $125,000.

Do you think that would be enough to muzzle him? Definitely not.

In 2017, after his Raiders had lost to Melbourne, Stuart was in no mood for questions. So he used his entire five minute media conference to unload on the referees.

"Coaches have to come in here and own up to every question you blokes want to throw at us, and we do it week in and week out," he said.

"We keep on aiming up, coming in here, having to answer your questions after our week, season of hard work ... why don’t the NRL get the referees to come in and answer some of these questions too?

"When do they ever have to face any accountability?"

Honourable mentions:

2017: St George Illawarra Dragons coach Paul McGregor is fined $10,000 for calling the referees "embarrassing and incompetent"

2017: North Queensland Cowboys mentor Paul Green receives a $10,000 breach notice for saying "That was the worst display of refereeing I have ever seen". That followed a $20,000 fine he copped in 2014 for saying they did not trust the judicial process.

About the Author Josh Alston

Josh Alston is a hack with over 12 years industry experience, covering sport across all codes for newspapers and online agencies. Known to frequent grade matches because of their cheap tinnies. Eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Masters in sitting on the hill when the local cricket side was playing. Softball premiership winner, rugby league legend in Year 10 and no stranger to Doomben Racecourse.

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