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Smith could become fall guy for wrestling

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by Guest, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. Guest

    Guest Guest

    +0 /0
    Brad Walter and Glenn Jackson | September 23, 2008

    JUDICIARY panel members will be told tomorrow night that the Cam Smith hearing is a test case in the battle to eradicate grapple tackles and other illegal wrestling manoeuvres from the game.

    After studying four new camera angles of the tackle by the Australian captain and teammate Jeremy Smith on Brisbane forward Sam Thaiday last Saturday night, the match review committee decided to charge him with grade-one contrary conduct - unnecessary head/neck contact.

    The grapple tackle charge means the Melbourne hooker, who skippered Queensland to victory in this season's Origin series and had the honour of captaining Australia in May's Centenary Test triumph over New Zealand, will miss Friday night's preliminary final against Cronulla and the following weekend's grand final unless he convinces the three-man tribunal panel of former players of his innocence.

    Jeremy Smith was also charged with grade-one contrary conduct - unnecessary pressure to arm/shoulder - for an alleged "chicken wing" tackle on Thaiday at the same time.

    The vision of the incident is likely to be the only evidence submitted in the case against the Smiths as it is considered damning enough to ensure a guilty finding.

    After five years of dealing with grapple tackles and similar holds from the game, officials consider the suspension of one of the game's leading players from the biggest match of the season to be a watershed moment for the NRL.

    Almost everyone says they want the growing influence wrestling has on the game significantly curbed, although few were yesterday prepared to publicly discuss the Smith case.

    However, privately the overwhelming view among players, coaches and officials was that tomorrow night's hearing represented the best chance yet to do something about it.

    Conversely, the Herald was told that if Smith gets off it will be a free-for-all from now on.

    "It's so brazen that I don't think there was any choice but to charge him," one official said. "No one wants to see players suspended at this time of the year but they've crossed the line. This is going to be a bit of a test case, I think."

    Cam Smith is considered one of the best wrestlers in the game, and his tackles are regularly scrutinised by the match review committee. Among the 10 grapple-like incidents looked at yesterday, Smith featured in two.

    Despite the Storm's reputation, they featured in only one other similar incident that came under review - a Greg Inglis tackle on Tonie Carroll that was penalised in the first half.

    Smith pleaded guilty to a grade-one contrary conduct charge for a round-one grapple tackle on Warriors centre Brent Tate but the incident involving Thaiday was the first time he had been penalised this season specifically for the offence.

    He has, however, been penalised four times for holding down or making a second effort in a tackle. "He's the best in the business, everyone knows that," a member of a rival club's coaching staff told the Herald. "He's so good at it that I think they usually find them too hard to detect."

    A rival player, who has been the victim of a grapple tackle, said: "Everyone has been going on about this for years now but they've never really pinned anyone for it so it will be interesting to see what happens at the judiciary."

    Not everyone agrees that Smith is guilty, with former Balmain and Australia hooker Ben Elias labelling the decision to charge him as "a joke".

    "Fair dinkum, if you psycho-analyse every tackle like that, no one would be playing the game," Elias said. "We're losing enough great players. All our superstars are going overseas and playing overseas.

    "He's one of the greatest. He's the Australian captain. Not that that means he can get away with knocking someone's head off - but they're playing a game of rugby league. I don't think it was an intentional grapple tackle. It was a penalty. Justice would have been done - give the penalty and move on.

    "Where's it going to end? There's the chicken wing, or the turkey leg, or whatever it is. We want to see the superstars play. I don't think anyone would object if he got off."
  2. Jatz Crackers

    Jatz Crackers Moderator Staff Member

    +1,468 /8
    He couldnt be that stupid surely. If thats an accurate quote, what a ridiculous statement.
  3. CliffyIsGod

    CliffyIsGod Well-Known Member

    +109 /2
    And I heard Tallis saying he should get off -- the same Tallis that had has career in jeopardy because Muirs high tackle found him out for neck damage.
  4. ManlyBacker

    ManlyBacker Winging it Staff Member

    +972 /7
    This is a better artcile from SMH and is where most League lovers would be sitting on this one.

    Panic as Smiths face the music
    Greg Prichard | September 23, 2008

    THE storm that finally hit Melbourne yesterday had been coming for a long time - long enough for the club to get out of its way if it so chose.

    But instead, it opted to stand square in its path, and now the damage could be enormous.

    What was once the Storm's greatest strength - their ability to win the battle on the ground with wrestling tactics that not only pushed the envelope but sometimes ripped it open - is now their biggest weakness. It could cost them their captain, Cam Smith, for the rest of their finals campaign.

    Melbourne could probably cope with the loss of Jeremy Smith, who has also been charged over the controversial tackle on Brisbane's Sam Thaiday. But the other Smith is a different story. He is one of the most dynamic members of the side, and a great inspiration.

    There is no point in trying to predict with any certainty what will happen at the judiciary hearing - particularly with a charge that, in Cam Smith's case, involves unnecessary contact to the head or neck. This is still very much unpredictable ground. And the Storm, with their legal representation, may go down there and mount a compelling argument in Smith's defence.

    Geoff Bellew, who will represent him, is renowned for getting results. But if, after twisting Thaiday's head every which way but loose in an incident that looks particularly bad on video, Smith were to get off, what would the rules be after that? It would seem that there are no rules.

    It is finals time, and missing a grand final qualifier - and possibly a grand final as well - is a huge price to pay for any indiscretion. But on face value, if the judiciary panel was to exonerate Smith, it would be left with a hell of a lot of explaining to do. The Storm have always argued that they don't do any more wrestling, or grapple-tackling, than any other team, but they would say that. It's a highly controversial issue. Whether they take more liberties than other teams is a matter of opinion, but I'm among those who think that they do.

    Smith has been a leader in this area, and is sitting on 93 penalty points for a previous incident. That should have been more than enough of a warning for him, but even after wrapping his arm around Thaiday's head, he didn't think better of it and let go.

    Melbourne should have seen the signs long ago, and acted. But instead, they claimed they were being unfairly singled out. As a result, they now face the prospect of having a massive hole blown in the side of their premiership campaign.

    Other teams have outsmarted them recently. The Warriors, in the first week of the finals, complained constantly to the referee about grapple tackles during their game against the Storm, and got a result in the form of penalties. Brisbane did the same, and also got penalties.

    The Storm have seemed gun-shy at times, with the world seemingly closing in on them. But under pressure, they have tended to revert to type - and the joint tackle by the Smiths was a classic case of that happening.

    Taking control of a player's head in a tackle is dangerous, particularly when there might be another defender, or defenders, driving him in another direction. It's an awful look for the game, and it should have been wiped out well before now. The NRL has to take responsibility for that.

    The match review committee seemed to have become reticent to come up with grapple-tackle charges, because when players contested such a charge, they tended to get off. But there was never any doubt the Smiths would be charged.

    It remains to be seen whether Jeremy Smith, facing one or two games out for a so-called chicken wing, contests his charge.

    Cam Smith, facing two games out, has no choice. The Cam Smith case will be a test case, and a chance for the game to draw a line in the sand.

    If he gets suspended, it will be very hard for both him and the Storm to take. But it will be good for rugby league.
  5. Dan

    Dan Kim Jong Dan Staff Member Administrator 2016 Tipping Competitor 2017 Tipping Competitor

    +7,729 /120
    either way this goes it could fire up the Storm big time
  6. clontaago

    clontaago Well-Known Member

    +170 /1
    The Storm are shot ducks if C.Smith goes.
  7. ManlyBacker

    ManlyBacker Winging it Staff Member

    +972 /7
    Cam's the master at the wrestle and that tackle just went too far. No tears from me.

    And has Inglis decided to follow the prophet Mundine with his haircut? They could be brothers.
  8. ConcernedSupporter

    ConcernedSupporter Member

    +2 /0
    If he gets off, and I certainly hope not, I am sure there will be a few sharks forwards looking to deliver the shot that puts him out of the game.
  9. eggson

    eggson Well-Known Member

    +305 /2
    i just want to see both teams give each other hell and be battered by the end, cos i'd rather an easy GF win than anything else!

    plus the Sharks in the GF scare me for some reason....
  10. Jatz Crackers

    Jatz Crackers Moderator Staff Member

    +1,468 /8
    Smith isnt the fall guy for wrestling. He is the figurehead.

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