Canterbury Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was left fuming after Josh Morris' late call-up for State of Origin duty resulted in Reimis Smith making his first-grade debut less than 24 hours after he had featured in a NSW Cup game.
Morris was added to the New South Wales squad as a replacement for the injured Josh Dugan on Sunday, with the former therefore withdrawn from the Bulldogs' clash with Canberra Raiders.
Smith made the most of an unexpected opportunity in Morris' absence, scoring two first-half tries in a 32-20 defeat, but Hasler was far from impressed with the circumstances that led to the teenager being selected and directed strong critcism towards the NSW medical staff.
"A multi-million dollar sport, it wasn't very well handled, the professionalism wasn't adequate enough," said an angry Hasler in his post-match news conference.
"If they don't learn anything out of today, whether it was the processes from the Origin side of things, whether the [New South Wales] medical staff wasn't professional enough ... but it's a tough one on an NRL side. And this is for anybody because they could've been in the same boat as we were.
"At this day and age, in an NRL competition, it's almost as if it's second fiddle, isn't it? It's almost as if you're playing second fiddle to what Origin is about, which is not a good thing.
"There's too much investment of money and time for this to happen. Two competition points in the NRL are vital, but a player shouldn't have to back up less than 12 hours after they played the day before. It's like going back to the 80s, isn't it? Let's hope they learned something out of it.
"There was a breakdown there somewhere in the communication process."
New South Wales Rugby League CEO Dave Trodden leapt to the defence of his organisation's medical staff.
"There appears to be a little bit of confusion on the part of the Bulldogs as to the circumstances behind what happened to Josh Dugan, said Trodden in a statement.
"The difficulty that caused him to be ruled out of Game One this Wednesday didn't manifest itself until this morning [Sunday] and was communicated to them as soon as it became apparent to us.
"We totally understand why Canterbury would be upset about their plans being thrown into disarray because of the late withdrawal of Josh Morris, but when they reflect on the comments made about the professionalism of the NSW medical staff, they may think those comments are unjustified. "These comments are about people who are leaders in their profession and who have been involved in rugby league for many, many years and don't deserve to have their professional standards questioned."