A contrite Brandon Smith says he's sorry for recent comments that have sparked uproar in the rugby league community, but insists he will continue to be himself by speaking openly and honestly.
The Melbourne star has come under fire after comments on a recent podcast that he would love to win a premiership in a Roosters jersey, despite still being contracted to the Storm for 2022.
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Smith told YKTR Sports podcast he found the Roosters' approach to be "mind-blowing", and all but confirmed that he was set to join the Tri Colours in 2023.
The Storm were furious that Smith publicly announced he had made a decision before speaking with Bellamy and club officials after promising he would give them a last chance at re-signing him.
On Tuesday, the Storm issued a statement confirming that 2022 would be Smith's last year at the club and denied suggestions he made on the podcast that there was a drinking culture at the club.
“Recent comments made by Brandon in a podcast, and the way he expressed them, do not align with Storm’s values and the way we operate as a club," Storm CEO Justin Rodski said.
“The statements have deeply offended current and former players, coaches, staff and board members and the club strongly rejects the comments made about the Storm culture.”
“We acknowledge Brandon’s apology made on social media today and his willingness now to prepare for the 2022 season with Storm.”
“Brandon has every right to explore future opportunities as any player would in his position, and ultimately we respect his decision to play football elsewhere from 2023.” Rodski said.
The Storm's statement came after Smith released a lengthy statement on Tuesday to address the uproar and widespread condemnation he's received from the media and the rugby league community.
“I want to address current media speculation going on around me at the moment, and specifically my recent comments on the YKTR Sports podcast,” Smith said in the statement.
“Over the past two month, I’ve read multiple headlinese about me day in day out, many of which were untrue, non that came from my mouth directly.
“I done [sic] this podcast for that very reason. To be fully transparent about he process I’ve been going through.
“It’s honestly been really exciting through and I’m truly grateful to being the position I’m in.
“One thing I pride myself on is being myself, and regardless of backlash I will continue to do so.
“That being said, I do acknowledge and want to apologise for how some of the comments have been received.
“Specifically to the Melbourne Storm, it was never my intent to disrespect or come across as ungrateful to the club that has done so much for me and my family.
“And that goes for my coaches, members, staff and most of all, my teammates
“I speak from the heart – for better or worse sometimes – and I’m sorry if anyone was hurt by my words
“But at the end of the day they are my words.”
Brandon Smith talking about the Roosters organisation being above the rest
Exciting to hear that he is all in - he will be a passionate clubman & will fit in great
Hearing stuff like this makes me so proud to be a chooks fan & member #nrl #EastsToWin 🐓 pic.twitter.com/mNVoeESPr1
— Out of our League (OOOL) 🏉 (@OOOL1908) November 28, 2021
Brandon Smith says no drinking culture at Storm
The representative hooker then went on to address a specific part of the podcast where he spoke about drinking being “a massive part of the culture” at the Storm, insisting that the media twisted his comments to suggest there was a toxic culture around alcohol at the Melbourne club.
“I specifically also want to address the media honing in on my comments around the Storm culture, and it being framed as a ‘drinking culture’ they have going on down there,” Smith added.
“Our culture is built on hard work and effort as the main priorities.
“These comments have been taken way out of context, and I emplore [sic] anyone interested in the matter to please watch the interview in its entirety before jumping to conclusions.
“This will be the last time I address the comments made on this podcast. My focus is now fully turned to the future with the Melbourne Storm and all the amazing opportunities laid before me.
“Whatever happens I will give 100 per cent. It’s all I know. If I’m to be label a terrible person so be it, if I cuss too much I’m sorry but that is me and I continue to be me.
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