NRL wrong to ban Smith: Geyer, Sattler - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL wrong to ban Smith: Geyer, Sattler

By Wayne Heming 22/09/2008 06:53:01 PM Comments (0)

Premiership-winning former league hard men John Sattler and Mark Geyer have slammed the NRL's judicial system which could end Melbourne captain Cameron Smith's season.

Smith was charged by the match review committee for a grapple tackle on Brisbane's Sam Thaiday and faces a minimum two-game ban which would rule him out of Friday's preliminary final with Cronulla and possibly next week's grand final.

Kiwi Test forward Jeremy Smith has also been charged from the same tackle for a chicken wing offence that carries a one-match ban.

The twin charges could be a disastrous blow to Melbourne's title defence as Test backrower Ryan Hoffman is in serious doubt to play on Friday with an ankle injury.

But it is the potential loss of Australian hooker Smith that hurts most.

The reigning golden boot winner must beat the charge at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night or miss Melbourne's quest for back-to-back titles.

History is at least on his side as in four years, six of the eight grapple charges taken to a judiciary panel have resulted in not guilty verdicts.

But Geyer and Sattler say he has no case to answer, slamming the charge and loading system which has put Smith's season in jeopardy.

A round one grapple conviction has added loading and carryover points to the charge meaning instead of missing just one game he would now sit out two.

"It wasn't a grapple tackle," said Geyer.

"I'm probably an expert on the judiciary because I spent 34 weeks on the sidelines because of them.

"I copped that because I sailed close to the wind on many occasions.

"But for a player like him (Smith), who's a real ornament to the game, who never plays outside the rules, to miss a preliminary final and maybe a grand final, it's just not rugby league.

"Let's get rid of the carryover points, the discounts, the loadings, it's all crap.

"If someone keeps offending and coming up before the judiciary, keep increasing his time on the sidelines until he gets the message.

"It deterred me. It didn't stop me doing it, although in retrospect it was the wrong way to play.

"But for a cleanskin like Smith, to have something he did in round one come back to bite him like it could, the system is all wrong."

Sattler agreed with Geyer that there was "nothing" in the Thaiday tackle that warranted suspension.

"He's not a dirty player at all, he's a very talented player," the South Sydney grand final hero said.

"This is finals football. They're killing our game by over-refereeing it. It's not a game for sissies.

"This loading is absolute crap.

"It's an embarrassment. We've got players taking the field in a heavy contact sport under fear that if they slap someone across the face they could miss a big game."

Storm winger Steve Turner said there was clearly no malice in his skipper's tackle, adding Smith was close mates with Thaiday through their Queensland Origin connection.

"I didn't think there was any intent in that tackle at all," said Turner.

"Cam's played with Sam in Origin and at Test level as well, Cam and Sam are very good mates, there was no malice or intent in that at all."

The potential loss of three internationals has made little change in premiership betting, with the Storm only slightly drifting in the markets but still outright title favourites.

Preliminary final opponents Cronulla still rate the Storm major threats this week while Turner insists they can win the crown without their star trio.

What the past fortnight has revealed however is the increase of whingeing by opponents who have grown tired of Melbourne's relentless wrestling techniques.

Geyer said it was a sad situation for league that players now "scream like a girl" whenever the Storm tacklers are near the neck or head.

"Players might as well start to wear skirts," he said.

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