Cameron Smith may be sanctioned over a pointed comment made while Jahrome Hughes was sin-binned in the NRL grand final, a report says.
The Sydney Morning Herald has revealed that Storm captain Smith appeared to question the integrity of grand final match officials as Hughes was fingered for a professional foul with nine minutes remaining.
A video referral was made for a deliberate obstruction by Hughes on Panthers forward Viliame Kikau, who was chasing an attacking kick and putting pressure on Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen near Melbourne’s tryline. Smith approached on-field referee Gerard Sutton during the review.
“The last three or four penalties they have got is little very picky stuff and we have got nothing mate,” Smith told Sutton before Hughes was sent to the bin, according to the Herald, in audio picked up by a Channel Nine FX mic.
“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.”
Saying that officials were mindful of an “exciting finish” may see Smith cop an NRL sanction, most likely a fine. It would be a small but unfortunate post-script to the game, a 26-20 win for Melbourne, which could be the last of Smith’s iconic career.
During August, Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was fined $20,000 for suggesting that match officials had “managed” Canberra back into a game against Penrith.
“It felt like they [Canberra] were being managed back into the game,” Cleary said. “That’s all I can say. Some really strange calls.”