Cameron Smith is once again under fire for the way he plays after NRL journo Paul Crawley called out extraordinary footage of the Melbourne Storm captain.
Smith’s interactions with referees has always stirred debate amongst the NRL public, and footage from Melbourne’s win over Newcastle last weekend will only fan the flames.
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On NRL 360 on Tuesday night, Crawley played footage of Smith pressuring referee Ben Cummins to blow penalties against Newcastle.
Smith can be seen standing in front of the advantage line while Melbourne have the ball, barking at the referee.
He doesn’t even attempt to get back in position at dummy-half and instead focuses on calling out perceived infringements to Cummins.
In one such instance Cummins does end up blowing a penalty against the Knights.
“Look at Cameron in this … I thought we got rid of the pocket referee and then they get the penalty at the end of it,” Crawley said.
However host Ben Ikin dismissed Smith’s actions and said the referee should have been stronger.
“That’s on the referee. That could be viewed as gamesmanship,” Ikin replied.
“If it’s Alfie Langer or Tommy Raudonikis we laugh and tell stories at the pub but as soon as it’s Cameron Smith it becomes evil and rat cunning.”
Crawley said the extraordinary footage goes to the heart of why some fans dislike Smith.
“It’s gamesmanship, but it’s a reason a lot of people get frustrated with the way Cameron plays the game,” he said.
“It’s not a personal attack on Cameron, people say ‘oh you do it Crawls because he comes from Queensland’, my favourite player of all time is Lockyer and he was a Queenslander.
“You know what I loved about Lockyer aside from the fact he was a brilliant footballer who was a joy to watch, it was the spirit he played the game in.”
He's literally gone out of his way to try and influence the ref into making a decision to benefit his team. Gamesmanship— Stefan Edge (@stefan_edge) June 16, 2020
Look the problem isn’t Smith it’s his job to push the envelope for his team. The problem are these incompetent ref,Bunker & 2 linesmen who continue to allow this to happen. Sack the lot and start again,Cummins is bloody hopeless.— Frank (@stoocho) June 16, 2020
I screenshot the exact moment the ball was played and apart from number 10 from what I can see they look onside to me. I love Cam Smith but you can’t say he doesn’t influence. I also think the refs need to not listen to him and play what they see pic.twitter.com/ttVg7sLIo1— Dylan Matthews (@DylanMatthews91) June 16, 2020
Doesn’t every other player call out things like this in a game? But just because you’ve captured Cameron Smith doing it, it’s such a problem. The narrative of Smith becoming a “referee” is so old & boring. Just move on already.— Joshua (@Monteleone96) June 16, 2020
Cameron Smith caught in foul-mouthed spray
It wasn’t the only moment between Smith and Cummins that caught the attention of fans.
Smith let his frustrations get the better of him in a foul-mouthed spray at the referee in the first half.
Smith was incensed when the Knights were awarded a penalty after Sione Mata’utia made a line break and was brought down by Ryan Papenhuyzen.
Papenhuyzen appeared to strip the ball one-on-one, however Cummins penalised the Storm as he believed the tackle was complete.
Smith was livid after learning the Storm had been penalised, especially considering he’d missed his chance to use his captain’s challenge.
“You f***ing called it,” Smith yelled at Cummins.
“No I didn’t, Cameron. It’s a penalty for the strip,” Cummins replied.