Storm grapples with controversy - again - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm grapples with controversy - again

By Guy Hand 15/09/2008 05:40:43 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith says his team is sick and tired of having to answer grapple tackle allegations - a furore re-ignited in the wake of their shock NRL qualifying final defeat.

Storm players were accused of using the controversial tackling technique in their upset 18-15 loss to the New Zealand Warriors. The Kiwi side dobbed in the premiers relentlessly throughout the first half to referee Jason Robinson.

The firestorm over the grapple tackle has gained oxygen ahead of Melbourne's sudden-death final against Brisbane, whose coach Wayne Bennett has been an outspoken critic of the tactic.

But Smith said he was tired of rivals constantly singling out the Storm for alleged grapple tackles, pointing to NRL match review committee statistics released recently.

"It does get a bit tiresome. Unfortunately it was brought up in the game yesterday, and we do get a little bit tired of it," Smith said.

"Look at the stats that came out two months ago. We're the fourth highest penalised team for grapples or unnecessary contact with the head, so clearly we're not the main offenders there.

"So I don't know why everyone keeps going on that we're the ones that do it."

Warriors skipper Steve Price spent much of the first half of Sunday's match nattering in the referee's ear, telling Robinson in no uncertain terms to watch the Storm to ensure no grapple tackles escaped without penalty.

Other Warriors players also complained about some of the Storm's tackles, and Smith suggested that if their pressuring of the referee was a premeditated tactic, it had been a spectacularly successful one.

"It worked for them, didn't it?" Smith said.

"The referee's out there to do a job, and we never go out there and ask them to give penalties. He's the one with the whistle, he can make up his own mind.

"They should be refereeing the game as they see it, not what they're hearing from opposition players."

Smith said his team's defeat, which has turned the race for the premiership upside down, hadn't dented the Storm's confidence they could win back-to-back grand finals.

Melbourne have now missed out on both a home ground advantage and a week off ahead of the preliminary final, instead facing a sudden-death clash with the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

"We do have another opportunity. It's just one game harder. It's just one extra game we have to play," Smith said.

"It's a bit harder than we wanted. But we've played big games up in Brisbane, we've played big games up in Sydney and managed to come away with wins.

"I don't think it's that tough an ask with the team that we've got. We still think we can do it."

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