Penrith star Trent Merrin has taken a swipe at the NRL judiciary, claiming they "made an example" of teammate Sam McKendry by banning him for touching the referee.
Just two weeks after Canterbury prop David Klemmer overturned a similar charge by the three-man panel, McKendry had no such luck on Wednesday night and will now miss Sunday's clash against Cronulla.
His suspension comes after footage emerged of North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston in a similar incident the previous week, further highlighting the game's inconsistencies with the rule.
Merrin believes McKendry was simply made a scapegoat for the game's crackdown on the issue.
"There's deadset been a few calls in the last few weeks that have done the exact same thing but they get let off," Merrin said.
"But I think they've got to make an example sooner or later and they've done it with Sammy.
"It's not a good move by us at the club. We sure are going to miss him this weekend, but we'll cop the slap on the wrist and get ready for next week."
The former St George Illawarra forward, who admitted he also got away with a similar misconduct, questioned why Thurston didn't get pinged by the match review committee.
"You've got the best player in the world that touches the ref and doesn't get (anything), and then someone else does it and they cop a week," he said.
"I think there's a bit of inconsistency with that and I think I've even touched the ref and I got pulled up on it too. But I think they've just got to be more consistent with their calls."
McKendry was the fourth player charged with touching a referee this year along with Canterbury's David Klemmer, Parramatta's Kieran Foran and Brisbane's James Roberts.
The Panthers prop is expected to be replaced by either Elijah Taylor or Jeremy Latimore to take on the Sharks.