Cameron Smith has delved into his ugly spat with Channel Nine in his new autobiography, revealing his disgust at the network’s handling of the Alex McKinnon tragedy.
Smith came under fire in 2014 for his reaction to the devastating accident that left McKinnon a paraplegic.
McKinnon, playing for Newcastle against Melbourne at the time, landed on his head and neck after a tackle from Jordan McLean.
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Storm captain Smith could be heard questioning the referee about why his side was being penalised, suggesting McKinnon had purposely ducked his head.
The saga exploded in 2015 when McKinnon was shown Smith’s chat with the referee in an interview with 60 Minutes.
“Is he still debating? Is he f***ing serious?” McKinnon told reporter Liz Hayes. “Wouldn’t you just shut up?”
In his new autobiography ‘The Storm Within’, Smith defends his reaction to the incident and reveals how he made multiple attempts to check on McKinnon in the days following.
“I don’t know if Alex was ever made aware of those approaches but I was on the front foot every day,” Smith writes.
“‘How is he? Can we go up there? Can we talk to him’.
“There were claims we didn’t care. That we had no regard for the injury he’d suffered. And that simply wasn’t true.”
Addressing the 60 Minutes episode, Smith says he’s never watched the full interview but says the clip McKinnon was shown was “a complete misrepresentation of how those eight minutes played out”.
Smith claims the episode was a ploy by Nine to boost ratings for an upcoming State of Origin match or to throw the Maroons off their game.
It ended up putting a fire in Queensland’s belly, winning 52-6 to clinch the series over NSW.
While Smith was rapt with the victory, he was seething at Channel Nine.
“The Queensland Rugby League let Nine know how I felt: there was no way I was talking to them before, during or after the match,” Smith writes.
Cameron Smith slams ‘bulls**t’ apology stuff-up
Smith claims McKinnon eventually told him that Nine played the footage “on a loop” and asked him about Smith’s actions “until they got the angry reaction out of him that they wanted”.
Smith was also incensed that Nine hadn’t reached out to him for comment before the episode went to air, refusing to talk to the network until he received an apology.
Smith and his wife eventually sat down with Channel Nine bosses, who agreed to apologise on the NRL Footy Show.
“We asked why I hadn’t been asked for comment before the program had aired, and they said they didn’t feel like I needed to be in it,” Smith writes.
“That made no sense. Why wouldn’t they give me a chance to share my opinion?”
However Smith was left fuming once more when an agreement that Nine’s head of sport Tom Malone would be the one apologising was changed at the last minute.
Instead it was left to Footy Show host Paul Vautin to say sorry for the network, with Smith calling the change “bulls**t”.
“I walked away that night p***ed off about how it had all gone down,” Smith writes.
“After everything that happened, they couldn’t even get the apology right.”
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