SYDNEY FC midfield star Steve Corica has called on league referees to protect marquee man Dwight Yorke from the trophy-hunting defenders.
Disturbed by the punishment dished out to Yorke during Friday night's fraught 3-1 victory over Queensland, Corica has urged referees to send an unambiguous message to opponents with malevolence on their minds.
After Yorke left the Suncorp battle-field bruised and bemused, Corica insisted: "Dwight copped a few knocks and the referee didn't handle things too well.
"Dwight, like any other player, needs protection. We realise he'll also be a target for stick but seeing players sliding in from behind and then not getting penalised was surprising.
"If you do that, then it's a foul. I think the referee [Matthew Breeze] let a lot go. Dwight holds the ball up really well but that doesn't give players the right to go and foul him and then get away with it.
"He's our marquee player and we need to make sure he's getting the right sort of protection."
Though Sydney are stuck with their uptown boys motif, Corica believes they can at least dispense with their label as a one-man team.
Unimpressed by the notion they are Yorke plus a chorus line, Corica - who scored twice against the Roar - insisted the win proved there was substance beneath Sydney's glitter.
"Yorkie's a great player but the team is not just about him," said Corica, who returned from a one-match ban with a renewed sense of purpose and gelignite in his boots.
"We have a lot of good players. I thought that Terry McFlynn's goal was superb against Queensland but everybody deserved credit.
"Now we need to take that form into our visit to Perth Glory [on Saturday] and the home match against Adelaide the following week.
"We're aiming to make that one a happy homecoming."
With skipper Mark Rudan ready to return on Saturday and Sydney now exhibiting the hint of a strut in their stride, Corica added: "People were writing us off after two defeats.
"That's way too early and very disappointing. We knew we were good enough to beat Queensland. They showed us a lack of respect by not letting us train on their pitch and their coach [Miron Bleiberg] labelled us as pretenders.
"We wanted to show that is not the case and I think we've proved that."
"But one match doesn't change a huge amount. We are still the club everybody wants to beat and we have to adapt to that."