NRL star attacked at junior rugby league match

When an NRL player is attacked by an angry official while helping out at a junior rugby league match, you know that particular youth sport needs to take a look at itself.

That is allegedly what happened to Panthers’ Dallin Watene-Zelezniak when he was acting as a touch judge during the St Clair and St Mary’s match on Saturday morning at Peppertree Park in west Sydney.

The Kiwi international put his flag up to signify a St Mary’s player had stepped into touch, leading to an angry St Mary’s official allegedly abusing and confronting Watene-Zelezniak.

The official is then said to have put his hands around Watene-Zelezniak’s neck and started wrestling with him.

“It was very ugly and parents and officials had to take the kids across the field before a few people eventually broke it up,” an eyewitness told

“Officials eventually ejected the St Mary’s official from the oval.”

Regarded as one of the NRL’s good guys, Watene-Zelezniak was able to brush off the incident to feature for the Panthers in their win over Gold Coast.

The Panthers released a statement on Sunday saying the player was not to blame for what happened at the junior league match.

”Penrith Panthers is aware of an incident involving Panthers player Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, which occurred at a junior rugby league fixture in St Clair on Saturday morning,’’ the statement read.

”Watene-Zelezniak was volunteering as a sideline official at the time and contacted Panthers Executive General Manager Phil Gould immediately following the incident.

”Panthers can confirm Watene-Zelezniak was not the instigator of the incident.

”The incident is currently under investigation by Penrith Junior League and Panthers will review the matter on Monday.”

We recently published a blog on parents at a UK school being banned from sports day because of the threatening behaviour of a minority of parents.

It seems whether the culprits are officials or parents, there is a small segment that forget they are attending youth sports rather than some free-for-all at the local pub.

In Sweden, a country generally regarded for the mild mannered nature of its citizens, pushy parents in youth football have become such a problem that three Stockholm clubs have decided to act.

Threatening parents in Sweden? English parents banned from a school sports day? An NRL star attacked at a junior league match? It seems no matter the sport, some can’t help seeing the red mist at youth level. And it’s happening to those who should know better.


Stewart Coggin on Linkedin
Stewart Coggin
Digital Marketing at Teamer
Stewart has worked in sports media since 2002, initially in journalism and now marketing. After four-and-a-half years on the official Premier League website, he switched to marketing in 2012 with sports coaching providers Green Star Media before moving into the world of 5-a-side football with PlayFootball. He now supports the marketing efforts at Teamer.

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