Cameron Smith shouldn't play: Stuart - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cameron Smith shouldn't play: Stuart

By Todd Balym & Melissa Woods 23/09/2008 07:28:08 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla and Test coach Ricky Stuart says Melbourne captain Cameron Smith deserves to miss two weeks for a grapple tackle - even if it includes Australia's World Cup opener with New Zealand.

Smith will on Wednesday front the NRL judiciary to try to beat a charge of unnecessary contact with the head or neck of Brisbane's Sam Thaiday in last week's epic semi-final win.

If Smith is found guilty, he will miss two games, starting with Friday's preliminary final against Stuart's Sharks.

The ban would also include either the grand final or Australia's October 26 clash with the Kiwis.

Stuart said it was an unfortunate situation for Smith to face missing the most important part of the year but he had to wear the consequences of pushing the boundaries too often.

"He's been found guilty of attacking the head or the neck, or whatever it was. Rules are rules," Stuart told Sydney radio 2KY.

"It's disappointing for Cameron. It's disappointing for their coach because he's a big part of their team.

"He's been flirting with it all year so the time comes when you pay the price.

"It's difficult for him. He's a good bloke. He'll be disappointed he's not going to be there."

Stuart's comments are only going to increase the angst in Melbourne after Storm chief executive Brian Waldron accused the media of "disgraceful journalism" in their reporting of the saga.

Smith's grapple tackle case has been labelled a landmark hearing for the judiciary, with the NRL's proposed crackdown on the illegal tactic to be tested by the game's reigning golden boot winner.

"The greatest tragedy that comes out of something that happens on Saturday night is the focus on the negatives and not the positives about the game," said Waldron.

"It's bordering on disgraceful journalism at times that we just can't concentrate on the great things that happen in our game.

"Sure, we need to protect players and we need to be conscious of the image of the game but I would think there's a positives to be focused on than just the negatives."

The NRL would not reveal Wednesday's three-man panel of former players that will decide the verdict, but judiciary chairman Greg Woods will, as always, instruct them to ignore the media hype surrounding the case.

The interest surrounding the case has been so intense that Sportingbet Australia offered a market on whether Smith will play this week - $1.18 he won't and $4.25 he will.

It is the first judiciary hearing since Warriors fullback Wade McKinnon was banned three weeks for spitting at a touch judge - a punishment the NRL publicly slammed as too lenient.

Melbourne have been victims of a two-year campaign against their wrestling style but Waldron didn't think such a history would count against them on Wednesday night.

"That would be questioning the integrity of the people making the decision. That would be very silly," he said.

"There's sensible people charged with making sensible decisions on the outcome. We'll wait and see.

"I've got no doubt all that is written will become totally irrelevant when it gets to the minds of the three or four people making the decision on the night."

Leading Sydney lawyer Geoff Bellew, who has a superb record at the judiciary, will lead Smith's defence night but would not comment on the case or the supposed trial by media his client has endured.

"I don't want to comment on anything that has been said or done," said Bellew.

"I met with them today and will meet with them again tomorrow before the hearing."

The Storm haven't revealed how they intend to fight the charge, although by accepting an early guilty plea and a week's suspension for the other player involved in the tackle, Jeremy Smith, they may attempt to shift the blame on to him.

Waldron said he hoped the judiciary would accept the Test hooker's version of the tackle, that no malice was involved.

"Our defence will probably fall into place tomorrow but we think that the spirit of the game question ... Cameron's contact, right from the start he's maintained was accidental," he said.

"He certainly releases the tackle, if you look at it in real time. And when he realises it might be an issue and I think that there's a genuine case that he's not outside the spirit of the game, he doesn't go through with anything that causes any damage.

"We're very conscious that the head's sacrosanct but sometimes things happen.

"We certainly think there's a genuine case our captain should be playing this weekend."

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