Cameron Smith hits out at Reece Walsh incident as NRL world remains divided

The Maroons great has made his thoughts known over the incident that has divided the NRL.

NRL great Cameron Smith has weighed-in the furore around the Taylan May and Reece Walsh incident as former Broncos player Matt Ballin hits out at the rule surrounding head clashes. Walsh was left with a fractured eye socket and is set to miss four to six weeks after a brutal collision with the Panthers back last week.

May rushed out of the line, stayed upright, and clashed heads with Walsh who had his eyes on the ball. Former players are all divided over the incident with May escaping a ban and a fine. Broncos coach Kevin Walters was fuming and called for player safety to take centre stage for the NRL.

Cameron Smith reacts and Reece Walsh after a game.
NRL great Cameron Smith (pictured) has defended Taylan May and the Match Review Committee over the Taylan May and Reece Walsh incident. (Getty Images)

He worries Walsh could be targeted if a statement wasn't made by the NRL over the head-high collision. The fallout has prompted debate with NRL legends Johnathan Thurston and Brad Fittler at odds with Sharks great Paul Gallen over the incident. Meanwhile, the Broncos and the NRL will both rue the absence of the 21-year-old superstar who brings so many eyeballs to the game.

And Maroons great Smith has weighed-in and claimed he does not feel the accidental clash deserves any more scrutiny for May. "I actually thought when the referee put Taylan May on report, I was against it to be honest. I thought it was an accident," he said on SEN Radio.

"Anytime there are these accidental head clashes...and we've seen guys put on report, or even charged and suspended, I've been against it. Many people differ to that opinion. I am not saying I am right...I just feel that we had two players travelling at high speed."

Smith claimed the accident was just part of rugby league and doubled down that May's clash was not reckless, but accidental. "It is unfortunately just part of our game. We don't see them all the time, but they do happen. It's just a matter of the players travelling at high speed...I feel as though the right decision was made by the Match Review Committee to not charge him with an offence."

Broncos assistant coach Matt Ballin calls out NRL rules

While Smith has defended May and the Match Review Committee former Manly player, and current Broncos assistant coach, Ballin took aim at the rules and claimed it is hard to recognise what is deemed reckless.

"Back in my day, I felt that as unlucky. But now we have so many superstars getting taken out of the game, for a late hit on a halfback and things like that, we've made rules that a really vague and unclear," Ballin said on SEN Radio. Ballin said of course the Broncos would be upset over the Walsh outcome, but understands how the Panthers would feel with May.


The former Broncos No.9 said maybe a blanket rule would eliminate any debate from clubs around the issue. "I don't really know, if you make it a blanket rule...any contact to the head - whether it's accidental or head on head - then that player is responsible. That would make it a lot clearer," Ballin added.

Kevin Walters reacts and Taylan May tackles Reece Walsh.
Kevin Walters (pictured) was not thrilled with the outcome of Taylan May's hit on Reece Walsh (pictured right). (Images: Getty Images/Fox Sports)

On Monday, after pointing out the MRC is an independent body at arm's length to the NRL, Annesley stated: "The match review committee reached their conclusion of no further action on the basis that they thought it was an accidental head clash and as such didn’t reach the threshold for a careless or reckless-type action. The view of the administration is that we think that it does reach that threshold of careless action at least.

"In our view, there’s an obligation on all defenders to ensure that they play the game with due regard for the safety of other players. This particular type of action of coming up and in at speed will often go wrong... and on that basis we believe it should have resulted in a charge."