Nathan Brown is today waiting to learn whether they’ll face disciplinary action over his spate with Wigan coach Shaun Wane.
The Saints coach reacted angrily to what he described as referee Phil Bentham’s “absolutely shocking peformance” in the aftermath of Friday’s derby clash at the DW Stadium.
And he provoked a furious response from across Billinge Hill when he went on to allege officials had been influenced by past “whinging” from Wane about perceived unfair treatment from referees.
Rugby league bosses are continuing to pour over transcripts of Brown’s comments and are likely to announce whether he’ll face any punishment today.
Speaking on Monday, though, Brown appeared to row back on some of his more controversial remarks.
He said: “Wigan had copped some tough decisions in the last four or five weeks and I was concerned that those things could fall
back to hurt us, which, as a club, I don’t think we deserve.
“I spoke to Steve Ganson (referees’ coach) before the game because we needed the referee to be strong. My concern was the referee faltering a little bit - not deliberately - just through pressure, and I felt that’s what may have happened.
“He didn’t give us anything - not deliberately, it just happened. Coaches have bad days, players have bad days, referees have bad days. I don’t think Phil had his best day. But do I still think he’s a good referee and would I like him to referee us again - 100 per cent.
“The RFL has got guidelines in place about coach’s comments but I don’t think I overstepped the mark. You’re not allowed to call the
referee a cheat and I certainly didn’t do that. He just had an off day.”
Wane branded Brown’s comments “disgraceful” following the derby encounter and attempted to phone the Saints man several times to confront him over his remarks.
Brown, however, is unfazed by the angry noise coming from the DW Stadium.
He added: “Neither am I surprised by Waney’s reaction. He’s a passionate bloke who loves Wigan and, regardless of what’s been said,
I still feel the same about him as I did two weeks ago.
“I’ve always found him to be a good, decent bloke. We’re both passionate for our teams and doing the best for them. It’s nothing personal.
“You don’t normally see me criticising referees after games. Being a referee is the worst job in the world - it’s unforgiving. It’s like being Prime Minister. You’re never going to keep everyone happy.
“I was well within my rights to want the game refereed 50/50. But the last thing I’ll ever do is fall out with another coach about a game of rugby league.”
The fuore was sparked by Brown’s forthright comments about the standard of referring during Saints game against Wigan.
“I thought it was a super effort from the guys against such a good team but I thought the officiating of the game was
horrible.I thought Phil Bentham had an absolute shocking performance,” Brown told a packed press conference following the game.
“Waney (Shaun Wane) has been whinging for the last two months and we cop it up the backside today. We never ring Jon Sharp ( RL match officials director), we don’t complain after any game, and then you get a performance like that because other coaches are putting the referees under pressure.”
Wane, on being told about his counterparts comments by the assembled press corps: “He shouldn’t be able to say stuff like that.
I’m fuming to be honest. It’s also an absolute disgrace and absolutely garbage, that’s alI I want to say about it.”