Betting agency's $5m Cameron Smith blunder in NRL grand final

Ryan Papenhuyzen and Cameron Smith, pictured here after the NRL grand final.
Ryan Papenhuyzen got the Clive Churchill Medal over Cameron Smith. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Sportsbet were left red-faced after the NRL grand final when their decision to pay out on Cameron Smith to win the Clive Churchill medal backfired.

The Australian betting giants paid out around $5 million for anyone who backed Smith to win man of the match in Sunday night’s grand final.

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But their decision to do so before the award had been announced proved a massive blunder.

With the Storm well on their way to victory and Smith having scored a rare try, Sportsbet paid out early.

However the gong went to teammate Ryan Papenhuyzen, who had a blinder at fullback for the Storm.

“After 430 NRL games including eight deciders, we figured (Smith) would know how to play out a whole match,” Sportsbet’s Rich Hummerston said in a statement.

“The silver lining is the $1.3 million we paid out early on Labor to win the 2019 election doesn’t seem so bad.”

Betting agencies often pay out early in an attempt to encourage bettors to reinvest their money with more bets.

Ryan Papenhuyzen’s incredible 2020 season

Papenhuyzen scored a scintillating second-half try from inside his own quarter, ran for a game-high 187 metres and made two tackle breaks in Melbourne’s thrilling 26-20 victory over Penrith at ANZ Stadium.

The 22-year-old was then rewarded for an outstanding season with a first-time selection in coach Brad Fittler's NSW State of Origin squad.

But he said he couldn't have achieved anything without the sacrifices of his Storm teammates, who spent more than three months living in a bubble on Queensland's Sunshine Coast while locked out of Melbourne.

“Oh, this is unbelievable,” Papenhuyzen said in his acceptance speech.

“I'm pretty emotional after the game but, first of all, thanks to the boys. It's been a bloody tough year.

“We didn't know where we were going. We were sitting on the tarmac at Bankstown Airport and we didn't have a clue where we were going and we just stuck together.

“We overcame that bit and we got here.”

Ryan Papenhuyzen, pictured here with the Clive Churchill Medal after the NRL grand final.
Ryan Papenhuyzen poses with the Clive Churchill Medal after the NRL grand final. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Papenhuyzen only ended up at Melbourne when he was behind James Tedesco in the pecking order at Wests Tigers.

At the start of the last year he found himself behind Scott Drinkwater and Jahrome Hughes in the battle to replace Billy Slater.

But the Storm now appear to have found their fullback for the next generation.

Papenhuyzen has scored 17 tries in 29 games since moving to the back for the Storm, and now looms as a potential X-factor for the Blues.

“He's really matured this year,” coach Craig Bellamy said.

“He'd be the first to say he's had a lot of help off the field.

“It's one thing to get that advice but he's really taken it as well.”

with AAP

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