Canterbury coach Dean Pay has been slugged with a $25,000 for his post-match spray at the NRL referees after his side's controversial loss to Brisbane.
Rookie Bulldogs mentor Pay became the first NRL coach of 2018 to be handed a breach notice for criticising the whistleblowers and the club now has five days to respond to the proposed fine.
The NRL said that Pay had overstepped the mark by questioning the integrity and performance of referee Gerard Sutton and video review official Steve Chiddy.
Pay described as "ridiculous" the sin-binning of Moses Mbye for a professional foul and hinted that there was a conspiracy against his side when he said: "It's like we are not supposed to win."
Mbye was sidelined for 10 minutes after holding back Darius Boyd, which led to Jamayne Isaako booting an 80th-minute penalty goal which sealed the 22-20 win.
Pay also took issue with Isaako not being pulled up for an alleged knock-on and Dogs prop David Klemmer being marched for back-chat.
NRL referees boss Bernie Sutton on Friday declared that his men had got all three decisions, including the Mbye sin-binning, correct.
In past years, $10,000 has been the usual fine for coaches overstepping the mark.
However during last year's finals the NRL sought to clamp down on ref criticism when Cronulla's Shane Flanagan was fined $30,000 and Manly's Trent Barrett copped $20,000.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg subsequently declared the game needed to "grow up".
Before the NRL on Monday afternoon handed down Pay's breach notice, Bulldogs players expressed their support for the first-year mentor.
"It is hard to bite your tongue sometimes and not speak openly," Brett Morris said.
"And sometimes people want to here an open and honest option. I suppose that's what they got."
Josh Morris said Pay's comments were his frustrations coming to the fore after a difficult opening nine rounds which has seen them win just two games.
"He's a very passionate man and he knows how hard we're working and we're just not getting that win," he said.
"He was devastated for us. It was a hard way to lose."
Australian Associated Press