Storm captain Cameron Smith has been caught out by a live microphone accusing the grand final referees of trying to set-up an exciting finish during the Panthers’ frenzied second-half fight back.
Smith was heard accusing whistleblower Gerard Sutton of trying to get the Panthers back into the contest after a series of controversial calls went against the Storm as the Panthers scored four straight tries to set-up a grandstand finish in Sunday night’s grand final at ANZ Stadium.
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The Storm held on for a 26-20 victory that came down to the very last play in a terrible scare for the Storm, who had appeared certain victors with a 26-0 lead and just half an hour to play.
Smith could clearly see the tide turning against his side late in the second half and had finally had enough of the questionable referee calls after Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes was sent to the sin bin for taking out Viliame Kikau as the second-rower chased down a grubber kick.
The call came despite Hughes having his back to the charging Panthers star.
It left the Storm with just 12 men for the final 10 minutes of the game.
Cam Smith could be in hot water.Source:Getty Images
Smith was right to be worried after a shocking NRL Bunker blunder allowed the Panthers back into the game on the back of a butchered obstruction call ruling from the video referee when Isaah Yeo set-up a try for winger Brian To’o.
Immortal Andrew Johns was scathing of the decision in live commentary for Channel 9, accusing the officials of not knowing the rules after Yeo had clearly run around his own teammate before kicking to To’o out wide.
While Johns was angry, Smith was calm as he approached Sutton and less-than-subtly accused him of handing the Panthers preferential treatment.
“The last three or four penalties they have got is little very picky stuff and we have got nothing mate,” Smith said before Sutton gave Hughes his marching orders.
“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.”
The Sydney Morning Herald first reported the sly accusation could land Smith in hot water under the NRL’s rules which strictly ban players and coaches from questioning the integrity of referees and officials.
Winners are grinners.Source:Getty Images
Smith was far from the only person upset about the whistle-blowers with coach Craig Bellamy also left fuming as the calls didn’t go his team’s way in the second half.
Bellamy had one of the all-time great blow ups in the coaching box where he was filmed lashing out and kicking a chair.
Meanwhile, Smith was also praised for his classy victory speech during the presentation of the Provan-Summons Trophy and also revealed the sad obstacles that have kept the team distanced from their partners and families this year.
Because of the NRL’s biosecurity protocols, Smith and teammates weren’t allowed to make contact with their loved ones during their celebrations after full time.
When asked about not being able to hug his kids after the game, Smith was full of emotion.
“There have been some strange rules and strange restrictions all year where, ‘That’s OK to do this thing, but you can’t do that thing’,” Smith said.
“I don’t know. If you start thinking and worrying about all these different protocols and restrictions, you’d do your own head in.
“But we knew about those circumstances when we came down to Sydney last night and of course you’d love to embrace your family and hug your children, your wife, your parents, your partner’s wife, whoever it is, your loved ones, because we were out playing those 80 minutes but they’ve been through this entire season with us and going through those challenges.
“They’re just as much a part of what we’ve done tonight as all the players and the coaching staff.”
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