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Dogs' Hetherington is no NRL thug: Barrett

·2-min read

Canterbury coach Trent Barrett has come out in defence of Jack Hetherington, declaring the prop is "not a thug" and that a technical issue is behind his wretched judiciary record.

Hetherington will on Saturday night start the sixth ban of his 29-game NRL career when he sits out the first of his five-game suspension against Cronulla.

By the time his suspension for a high shot on Valentine Holmes is over, he will have missed more than half the amount of games he has played with a rap sheet totalling 15 matches.

Barrett knows Hetherington well, having coached him in his role as an assistant at Penrith before bringing him across to the Bulldogs.

"He's not a thug, Jack," Barrett told reporters.

"He's a good player and he's got to tidy some things up defensively.

"I was disappointed for Jack.

"It certainly wasn't intentional.

"When Jack does get himself into trouble it's nothing (intentional).

"He's just flung an arm out there and got Valentine high."

Barrett's comments come after Phil Gould claimed Hetherington could one day be a State of Origin player if he gets his behaviour right.

His troubles date back to a dangerous lifting tackle in the under-20s which cost both him and Jarome Luai six weeks in 2016, with the forward having struggled to clear his record since.

Barrett believed the issue was now largely a technical one, with Hetherington's past four charges all for careless high tackles.

"He finds himself in a little bit of trouble with blokes with late footwork, and this is what happened again," Barrett said.

"It certainly wasn't a swinging arm... he flung his arm out and got wrong-footed.

"So it's a little bit of a technique thing there.

"Jack is probably his own worst enemy at times, he just needs to slow down.

"You would like everyone else in the side to have his intent and enthusiasm.

"Unfortunately it's got him into a bit of strife.'"

Meanwhile, Barrett confirmed the Bulldogs are interested in Brent Naden, who is in demand as he struggles to get back into Penrith's top 17.

"The club is always on the look out for good players and Brent is off contract, so he is someone our recruitment team would look at," Barrett said.

"He's a good player, he can score a try.

"He's a kick target ... I'm sure he will force his way into that Penrith side pretty soon."