WAYNE Bennett has jumped to the defence of Newcastle and NSW intimidator Beau Scott claiming his treatment of Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston last weekend which raised the ire of many was not dirty.
Thurston this week declared it was "open slather" on the game's playmakers after the NRL failed to come down on Scott who, while charged with a grade one dangerous throw, will be able to play for the Knights this weekend.
"The ball players have to play at the line more than ever because the defences have got smarter and that puts more pressure on the attack and more pressure on the ball players to get close to the line," said Bennett.
"You want them (ball players) getting hit, you want them getting up feeling their ribs because they've been hit, but within the rules of the game.
"When they step outside the rules of the game, that's what the officials are there for, they have to sort that out."
Bennett, who came up with the idea of employing former hit-man Tonie Carroll to protect his star playmaker Darren Lockyer when he was last at the Broncos, said there was no braver halfback in rugby league than Thurston.
"If you're not a brave halfback, you can't play in this league and there is nobody braver than Johnathan Thurston.
"But that's the price you pay for what you do. It happened the 80s and 70s and even the 60s .
Bennett said the rules had changed too much for players to take matters into their own hands these days.
"Nobody can take matters into their hands. The game's changed too much. What, are we going to have four or five players sitting on the bench next week because they've been suspended?.
"That's rubbish talk."
Bennett said Scott should not change his style.
"I love Beau Scott and I'm not going to make any apologies for him. I want him to play that way, he plays on the edge.
"He gives you everything he's got. If he's done something wrong them it is up to them (officials) to charge him.
"I wouldn't change the way Beau Scott plays for one minute because he wouldn't be half the player he is."
Bennett suggested the Cowboys, who will try and break their two-game losing start to the season against Brisbane on Friday night, had used the treatment of its star player to deflect the focus away from their poor start.