STARS LINE UP TO DE­FEND CAM SMITH

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - TODD BALYM

QUEENS­LAND cap­tain Cameron Smith is full of re­spect and em­pa­thy for Alex McKin­non and his fam­ily, but he’s up­set at the TV hatchet job that slan­dered his rep­u­ta­tion with­out of­fer­ing him a chance to re­ply.

Smith ( left), who is said to be in shock and deeply hurt by the claims, yes­ter­day spent a quiet day with his young fam­ily at Sanc­tu­ary Cove with­out con­fronting McKin­non’s com­ments dur­ing a 60 Min­utes in­ter­view ques­tion­ing his in­tegrity as a cap­tain and leader.

Queens­land team­mates ral­lied around their skip­per as he re­ceived fur­ther sup­port from across the code.

New­cas­tle coach Rick Stone was among the first to de­fend Smith over his han­dling of the tackle, which left McKin­non in a wheel­chair.

McKin­non lashed out on Sun­day night say­ing it was “f*** ing ridicu­lous” for Smith to tell on- field of­fi­cials that the New­cas­tle for­ward had con­trib­uted to his own in­jury. McKin­non’s fa­ther Scott de­scribed the Aus­tralian skip­per’s ac­tions as un­for­giv­able.

McKin­non was also an­gry that Smith had failed to con­tact him since the ac­ci­dent in March last year.

Stone, who was as­sis­tant coach of the Knights at the time, said that Smith was a good per­son and pre­dicted he would have acted dif­fer­ently had he known the ex­tent of McKin­non’s in­jury.

“I’ve known Cameron since he was 19,” Stone said. “He’s the Aus­tralian cap­tain, he’s got a lot of cred­i­bil­ity in our game.

“I think deep down ev­ery­one in the game knows Cameron’s a pretty de­cent fella.

“Alex is a cham­pion bloke,

I think deep down ev­ery­one in the game knows Cameron’s a pretty de­cent fella

KNIGHT’S COACH RICK STONE

as we know, and he’s a lit­tle bit frus­trated and an­gry at the mo­ment, and he should be.

“I didn’t take par­tic­u­lar no­tice of the footage, but maybe if Cam had his time again he might have shown a bit more re­spect if he un­der­stood the cir­cum­stances.”

Ma­roons vet­eran Corey Parker has known Smith since they played backyard footy as kids in Logan. He came out to de­fend his cap­tain.

“It’s a ter­ri­ble, ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent that has hap­pened, and to be hon­est, there are no win­ners in this sit­u­a­tion,” Parker said.

“I’ve known Cameron since I was a young boy and the per­son I know is a hum­ble de­cent hu­man be­ing. At no stage when those com­ments were made would Cameron have known the sever­ity of the tackle.

“When you’re part of a team there comes a time when you lean on each other and cer­tainly this is one of those times.”

The fail­ure of 60 Min­utes to of­fer Smith the right of re­ply has dam­aged his re­la­tion­ship with the Nine Net­work.

Smith is likely to con­duct his nor­mal me­dia du­ties as cap­tain in to­mor­row night’s Ori­gin broad­cast, but his will­ing­ness to work with Nine in the fu­ture re­mains un­clear.

Ma­roons team­mates rally around skip­per Smith: Sport

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