Smith staying at Penrith for his family - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Smith staying at Penrith for his family

Liam FitzGibbon 09/06/2008 12:30:16 PM Comments (0)

Penrith lock Nathan Smith has denied he was coerced by coach Matthew Elliott to back out of a deal to join Canberra, saying he made the decision for himself and his family.

The Panthers announced on Friday they'd signed Smith until the end of 2011, despite the 25-year-old agreeing to re-join Canberra for three years over a month ago.

Elliott came under attack from Canberra chief executive Don Furner, who publicly accused the former Raiders coach of deliberately encouraging Smith to break the deal.

But Smith, 25, said he had approached Elliott after seeing Luke Lewis pull out of his deal with Souths in similar circumstances.

"I went to him and said I wanted to stay," said Smith, adding he always wanted to remain with Penrith but their first offer was significantly less than the Raiders'.

"I found out (I could do it) when Luke did it.

"... It's a relief that is all over. I'm sorry if I put anyone out or anything like that but I just had to do what was right for my family and myself.'"

Under the NRL's new guidelines since abolishing the June 30 anti-tampering deadline, players have been able to negotiate with clubs up to a year in advance however the NRL will not register the contracts until after round 13.

It's meant that Penrith have had time to increase their contract offers to Smith and Lewis and keep them at the club.

Canberra have threatened legal action over the incident but Penrith captain Luke Priddis slammed the Raiders' criticism and defended the laws.

"It's just a bit of a beat up to be honest that clubs are coming out and crying foul," Priddis said.

"They're the rules and at the end of the day every club is playing by the same rules.

"There's never going to be an easier fix to anything ... the fans have been looked after this way and the players also get the fact that if they're not playing up to standard for the first half of the year, that they can stay and fight to stay at the club if that's what they want.

"The player has made the decision, it's within the rules ... Coming out and saying you're going to take legal action against players, it's just a blight on the game to be honest."

Elliott refused to get into a slanging match with Furner, saying he only had positive things to say about his former club.

"The only comment I'll make about the Nathan Smith situation is I think it's a fantastic testament to the playing group, that people want to remain in it," Elliott said."

He also defended the laws saying: "It could be seen as positive from the fans view that the incumbent club gets the last right of reply, I think that's what it's there for."

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