STARS LINE UP TO DEFEND CAM SMITH
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