Mundine's strike call extreme says Smith - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mundine's strike call extreme says Smith

By Wayne Heming 14/06/2010 04:09:11 PM Comments (0)

Queensland and Australian captain-in-waiting Cameron Smith rejects any suggestion rugby league has a smouldering racial problem on its hands.

As past and present players passed judgment on Andrew Johns's racial slur against Melbourne and Queensland star Greg Inglis which resulted in an outraged Timana Tahu walking out on NSW Origin camp, Smith said there was no evidence suggesting rugby league had an issue with entrenched racism.

He said calls on Monday by controversial former NRL star and world boxing champion Anthony Mundine for indigenous players to back Tahu's stand and pull out of Wednesday night's second State of Origin game were "extreme".

Mundine, who played the 1999 Origin series for NSW, has urged indigenous players involved in rugby league's showpiece to strike in support of Tahu's stand against racial vilification.

"I think that's probably a bit extreme," said Smith, the man most likely to replace Queensland and Australian captain Darren Lockyer.

"It comes down to the individual and how they feel.

"Timana obviously felt very strongly which is why he left."

"I think it would hurt the game if all the indigenous boys left and it would hurt the fans."

Smith said calls for other indigenous players, including Inglis, to pull out were over the top.

"I don't think Greg's ever thought he had to leave because Timana did," said the Storm skipper.

"Timana felt very strongly about it and obviously we support him, not because he's left the NSW camp or disrupted their Origin.

"It's an issue for him and obviously we'd stick by him.

"I think Greg would like to go out on Wednesday night and have a strong game and show he can get past these issues and that he's got a strong character."

A remorseful Johns resigned as NSW assistant coach on Saturday with the Blues going into damage control following one of their most disrupted Origin preparations in memory.

A number of high profile players, including Smith, Penrith captain Petero Civoniceva and Queensland icons Arthur Beetson and Mal Meninga have weighed into the issue, all suggesting Johns was out of line.

Mundine went a step further saying he advised young Aborigines to play for Queensland because he believed they got a fairer go than in NSW.

Smith wouldn't go quite that far.

"It's really a non-issue for us. We've never sat down and thought we shouldn't have indigenous players in our side or that we'd be better off without them," he said.

"It's great to have them, they're great athletes, great footballers. Look at the players who've come through like Mal (Meninga), Colin Scott, Tony Currie, Steve Renouf, there's heaps, Beetso (Arthur Beetson) and and a lot more."

"They were all great players, the boys really love having them around camp."

Smith said Tahu's actions in sacrificing his NSW Origin jumper to show how hurt and offended he felt has brought the issue to everyone's attention.

He said Tahu's stand had shown everyone that racial abuse was not only unacceptable but would not be tolerated any more.

"It might have happened 50 years ago but it's not part of society these days," he said.

"We all live together. I've played football with indigenous players and I've got indigenous mates who I've known since I was a kid growing up in Logan."

"There's just no place for that in society any more."

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