First he was the victim of mistaken identity, and now New Zealand Warriors assistant coach Tony Iro says he is unfairly accused of verbally abusing match officials during Friday night's loss to the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
Referee Ben Cummins told NRL ground managers he had been abused by Warriors' trainers during the opening half of the Broncos' 10-8 victory and could be heard telling assistant Chris James: "Kevin Iro and that bloke in yellow just gave us a gobful".
Kevin Iro, a former Kiwis centre who now runs rugby league in the Cook Islands, was not at the game, but his brother Tony was a runner – and he distanced himself from the incident.
"I didn't say anything to him. I don't know if he heard the players or me barking at the players, but I didn't say anything to him," he said.
The Warriors head trainer, Craig Walker, was also implicated and denied the allegations. It is possible players were expressing their displeasure at a ruling and it was unclear if the NRL would investigate.
Meanwhile, Broncos captain Sam Thaiday was also told to keep his players in line – and quiet – during the first half. "You've got about six captains out here at the moment, I'm not going to put up with it," Cummins said.
Thaiday admitted post-match that questioning refereeing decisions was primarily a delaying tactic, designed to give his players a chance to recover.
"You know they're not going to change their decision or anything like that. You're just really doing the best for your team to get a few seconds so they can get a breather," he said.
The Warriors conceded two kickable penalties when Feleti Mateo and Russell Packer were pinged for delaying the ball carrier, the latter arguing he had not heard the referee's instructions above the din of the crowd, before Corey Parker broke the 8-8 deadlock.
Warriors captain Simon Mannering also took issue with the match officials when the Broncos were not penalised after a player attempted to drag Kevin Locke behind his own line by the leg in the second half. But that plea fell on deaf ears.
Meanwhile, a last-ditch tackle by Kiwis international Josh Hoffman on Manu Vatuvei proved decisive as the Broncos held on.
While five-eighth James Maloney had more cause to be upset after he missed all three of his goal-kicks, his halves partner, Shaun Johnson, takes losses harder than most.
"It's frustrating, it's pretty crap. We were pretty good defensively, it's just our attack was off," said Johnson.
They went perilously close to construct a match-winning play after time elapsed. When Vatuvei stooped to collect a Johnson cross-kick on the right flank the Warriors' fans erupted, but a possible win was stopped by Hoffman before "The Beast" reached full tilt. Vatuvei reported no problems with his knee and centre Konrad Hurrell (ankle) is also expected to return against the Knights on Saturday in Auckland.
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