Cameron Smith has avoided sanction over a controversial conversation with referee Gerard Sutton in the final moments of the NRL grand final.
Smith played a blinder as the Storm beat Penrith 26-20 to claim another premiership, before delivering a powerful post-game speech and dedicating the triumph to Victoria.
‘QUESTIONABLE’: Double Bunker drama rocks NRL grand final
But in the 71st minute of the game, Jahrome Hughes was sent to the sin-bin for a late infringement on Viliame Kikau.
As Nathan Cleary stabbed a kick through the Storm line, Hughes was deemed to have changed his line to get in the way of Kikau and took him out of the play.
On-field microphones then picked up Smith’s controversial comments to Sutton just before he gave Hughes the marching orders.
“The last three or four penalties they have got is little very picky stuff and we have got nothing mate,” Smith said to the referee.
“I get it, everyone wants an exciting finish. But we are just the same as them.
“Stop trying to pick little things out of our game to make an exciting finish.”
Match review committee clears Smith comments
The NRL's match review committee did assess the incident, but opted against handing down any charge.
The comments had been compared to those of Panthers coach Ivan Cleary earlier in the year, who suggested Canberra were being “managed” back into a game.
Cleary was handed a $20,000 fine by the NRL at the time, with half of it later suspended.
But it’s understood league central considers comments made on the field as different to those said after a game in a post-match press conference.
Sutton is also believed not to have taken offence to the situation, and had no real issue with the comments.
If that's what he said he should've been sin binned, no question
— shane_181 (@themighties) October 26, 2020
Cleary should ask the NRL for a please explain and for his $20k back
— Jacob Blunden (@JacobBlunden) October 26, 2020
Always a different set of rules for Cameron 🙄
Not like everyone else who’s done this has be fined or anything... pic.twitter.com/CjLMbgkKQD
— Taylor Robinson 🎃 🦋 (@finelytaylored) October 26, 2020
Of course he did it’s Cameron smith https://t.co/OulLzbxQy7
— Emily (@Emilyrenee_13) October 26, 2020
Meanwhile, Penrith have avoided any further grand final pain, with James Fisher-Harris set to escape a ban for a late tackle on Brandon Smith.
The Panthers prop was put on report for the first-half shot on Smith after he passed the ball, and charged with a grade-one dangerous contact on Monday.
However an early guilty plea will see him avoid any ban.
Had the New Zealand international been given a suspension, the ban would have carried over into the start of next season.
The 24-year-old was the only player charged out of the grand final.
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