Adam O’Brien speaks on Mitchell Barnett red card, elbow to Chris Smith, Panthers defeat Knights.

NRL

Knights coach Adam O’Brien says he has no interest in “kicking into” Mitchell Barnett after the back-rower was sent off for a cheap shot during Newcastle’s 38-20 loss to the Panthers on Saturday afternoon.

Barnett looks set for a lengthy stint on the sidelines after he was issued with a red card for landing an elbow to the jaw of Chris Smith.

The incident occurred well off the ball in the first half of Newcastle’s clash with Penrith, with scores locked at 6-all at the time.

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The moment occurred when Smith got in the path of Barnett, who was running towards the right corner of the field in an attempt to stop a Panthers try. As Barnett passed by Smith, he lifted his right elbow up, collecting the Panthers’ No.19 in the face.

“I can’t talk about it. It’s going to the judiciary, so we will leave it,” O’Brien told reporters after the match.

When pressed again on the matter, O’Brien made it clear his interests were in making sure Barnett felt supported.

“I tell you what Mitch doesn’t need, me coming out and kicking him publicly,” he added.

“He’s part of our family and we will deal with it behind closed doors.

“There’s no one feeling any worse than Mitch at the moment.

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“We will deal with it during the week. He doesn’t need me kicking into him right now, he needs the support of his teammates.

“The angles were hard to see, it took a long time to see it. I haven’t had a good look, so I can’t talk about it.”

Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was also dragged into the discussion and stopped short from laying into Barnett for his actions.

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“It’s an unusual one [the incident]. I don’t know, I don’t how to explain that one,” Cleary said.

“From what I’ve seen, it seemed out of character for Mitch Barnett. I’m not sure what happened there.”

Cleary confirmed the club won’t know the extent of any potential jaw injury to Smith until he goes for scans.

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