Koroisau punch an eye for an eye
MANLY forward Joel Thompson says Api Koroisau had every right to punch Curtis Scott in the head because it was an "eye for an eye" after the Melbourne centre unleashed a flurry of blows on Dylan Walker.
Pouring further fuel on the flames of the Manly-Melbourne feud ahead of their round 18 grudge rematch, Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans also backed Koroisau's actions despite the hooker being widely condemned for launching a punch to the side of Scott's head.
Both Thompson and Cherry-Evans backed the idea that Scott should be suspended for the same six weeks Walker will miss through injury, rather than just the two-week ban he escaped with following Manly's 24-4 win at AAMI Park last Saturday.
Koroisau has been suspended for one week for punching Scott, who moments earlier had fractured Manly star Dylan Walker's eye socket with two vicious blows to the face.
Thompson said he would have been "filthy" if he had been punched and teammates refused to rush in to support him.
"If I was in the same position as Api, I'd do the same thing. You protect your mate, no matter what. Api was in a position to do that. I pat him on the back," Thompson said.
"He was just reacting to a mate being hit. An eye for an eye and I'm all for it. If I was in a position I'd probably do the same thing."
Koroisau and Walker are also former housemates, which added to the emotion.
"I would never see a mate get hit like that. No matter what, I couldn't handle that," Thompson said.
"Api is really close to Dylan and that's the way it is.
"If I was Dylan and getting whacked and no one came and jumped in, I'd be filthy."
Koroisau's hit was compared to a coward punch, but Thompson argued: "His (Scott) hands were down but so were Dylan's. It's an eye for an eye for me."
Thompson said Walker's reputation as a serial sledger was no excuse for Scott's actions in a match he described as a "shit fight".
"To be honest, if we were throwing punches every time someone was being cheeky, there'd be punches every tackle. I could have probably punched someone in the mouth 10 times but I didn't," Thompson said.
"'Walks' had copped one with his hands down and was not expecting it. We all mouthed off a bit there. It was unfortunate for him. It was pretty fiery.
"It (his sledging) was just Dylan. I wasn't a fan of him before I came here but I love being around him. He's got some really good energy, he's a good fella.
"It's all part of the game. There was plenty of chitchat out there amongst them as well. He won't change. He was still full of cheek the next morning.
"That's who he is. There were guys in their team mouthing off as well. These things happen. Geez, it's going to be a fiery game at Brookie I dare say."
Cherry Evans backed Koroisau, despite the hooker missing Friday night's vital match against Canberra at GIO Stadium through suspension.
"I made it clear to Api after the game that I certainly don't have any disregard to what he did, sticking up for his teammate and his friend," Cherry-Evans said.
"We talk about how close we are as a side, in particular there are even deeper friendships within our team, and you obviously saw first-hand how good a friends they are.
"There are friendships involved and when you see your mate getting thrown around, you certainly make sure you're there first-hand to try and stop it as quickly as possible.
"I'm certainly not going to endorse (what happened) but there are certainly a lot of people talking about it and certainly not for all the wrong things. When it does happen, people seem to talk about rugby league and how entertaining the game was."
Cherry-Evans also argued the "eye for an eye" analogy should be explored in relation to a player's suspension matching how long their victim is injured.
"Right now we have to cop our medicine but if the NRL was to go down that path and see people suffer the same time out as the injured player, then I certainly wouldn't be against it," he said. "Like a teammate said, it's an eye for an eye."
Thompson added: "It's an NRL decision. There's nothing we can really do. But you'd like to see Curtis go for six (weeks), it does make sense. We're going to miss a quality player but that's out of our hands."