Former NRL hardman Mark Geyer says new Bulldogs halfback Kyle Flanagan may have put a bigger target on his head by complaining about being roughed up.
And he criticised the club for buying into the story, with back-rower Adam Elliott saying that Flanagan’s Canterbury teammates would need to give him better protection.
Flanagan raised eyebrows after a weekend trial against the Sharks when he said, “Wade Graham was trying to take my head off”. The Bulldogs won 16-12 against Flanagan’s old club Cronulla.
“It’s a funny one. I don’t know whether young Flanagan just put a bigger target on his head by saying this,” Geyer told Triple M’s The Rush Hour.
“We all know rugby league is a game of bash and barge, the utmost aggression. My role when I was playing was try to get my hands on the opposing halfback as much as I could, because that would stop their attack … their kicking game.
“It’s a bizarre story because I don’t know what you get out of it. I don’t know what you get out of Adam Elliott coming out and saying, ‘We’re going to be guard dogs’; that goes without saying.
“When I played at Penrith back in the day, ‘Brandy’ (Greg) Alexander was like a god to us, if some other forward laid their hands on Brandy then we hadn’t done our job, and we would get our arse kicked from here to Broken Hill.
“This has been going on for 115 years, the halfbacks are always targeted.
“I don’t know if Kyle Flanagan has done himself any favours by saying, ‘Wade Graham was trying to knock my head off’, because that’s his job, that’s his job. He’s not doing his job if he’s not trying to knock the playmaker’s head off.”
Geyer said that Flanagan had the right coach to help keep him clear of trouble. New Bulldogs boss Trent Barrett was the attack coach at Penrith last season.
“I think the two grand final teams from last year, Penrith and Melbourne, that’s why they were in a grand final – their halfbacks basically played the season in dinner suits,” Geyer said.
“Trent Barrett should have a good perspective on that because he was the attacking coach for the Panthers, so he knows how to keep his playmakers out of harm’s way.
“I don’t know whether it’s a ploy from the Dogs to get referees looking at Dogs playmakers a little bit more than others.”
Flanagan is trying to reignite his career after making a shock exit from the Roosters. He was dumped by the powerhouse club just one year into his contract despite playing out a seemingly reasonable 2020 season; an axing of which he’s been critical.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!