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O'Donnell-Fulton row blamed on media
West Tigers coach Tim Sheens has blamed the media for 'inciting' Saturday night's flare up between Luke O'Donnell and Liam Fulton during the Tigers' 30-10 victory over North Queensland at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
The two forwards came face to face for the first time since the infamous "wishbone" tackle that sidelined O'Donnell for the majority of the 2007 season.
Following the heated exchange where punches were thrown rookie referee Tony De Las Heras sent Tigers forward Bronson Harrison to the bin for third man in before awarding a penalty to the visitors.
"It was always going to blow up," said Sheens.
"The media have pushed it, the O'Donnell versus Fulton thing, so we came out of it the worse end.
"Liam at the end of the day goes away with a points decision, we got the penalty, he didn't react and scored the try to win us the game at the back end.
"It has been in the Queensland media, it has been in the Sydney media.
"I said something during the week it is inciting it, everyone talking about all these bad tackles."
The veteran coach, who rated his side's win as "one of the best" he had been involved with, also took aim at the NRL.
"So what do you do? You start inciting the issue then it's going to be on, then the league give me a young referee."
Tigers prop Todd Payten revealed the Tigers included possible reaction from O'Donnell in pre-game planning.
"Part of our game was to use lead runners on him because we knew he would come out of the line and try and hit Liam so we were aware of it but we didn't expect it," said Payten.
"What I thought Luke had done was pretty ordinary and he was pretty lucky not to be sin binned or sent off for the rest of the game."
Sheens indicated the Tigers would probably have to go into next week's clash with the Bulldogs without skipper Brett Hodgson, the victim of a shoulder charge gone wrong from Cowboys centre Ash Graham.
"There was an element of him (Hodgson) falling," said Sheens.
"There is no doubt I thought it was the point of the elbow that hit him not a shoulder.
"Usually concussion or amnesia results in at least a week off. The doctors have got a protocol but he will probably need a week off."
Cowboys coach Graham Murray leapt to the defence of his star centre.
"I still believe that in rugby league there are a few collisions that are going to happen," said Murray.
"Particularly when people fall and slip in front of you.
"I am not sure where or if Ash Graham could of ended up but I think we are getting a bit jumpy about those tackles."