Cameron Smith To Escape Suspension For Slapping Opponent In Head
Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith has denied he was trying to slap Reed Mahoney in the face as he gets set to learn his fate over his skirmish with the Parramatta hooker.
The NRL match review committee will scrutinise the incident in the first-half of the Storm's 32-0 semi-final win which saw Smith sin-binned for just the second time in his career.
After Mahoney held onto Smith's jumper, the Storm veteran struck out several times before landing a blow on the young Eels No.9's head.
Smith said he had no issue with being marched for 10 minutes but insisted he had no malicious intent.
"Absolutely not," Smith said when asked if he was trying to strike his fellow Queenslander.
"Reed had a really good hold of me after I kicked the ball and he wouldn't let go.
"I missed the mark and clipped him high. It wasn't intentional. But the ruling was that I got him. It's a consistent ruling with what happened last night so I'm happy with that."
Smith appears unlikely to be rubbed out given South Sydney's Cody Walker escaped with a fine for a similar slap on Manly's Jack Gosiewski on Friday night.
Walker was charged with contrary conduct and if Smith is hit with the same charge he'll be free to play.
The only chance of him missing next Saturday's preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters is if he is charged with striking.
Mahoney said he didn't even realise he had been struck by Smith.
"I didn't really feel it, I just got up and it was a penalty," Mahoney said.
"We had a good laugh at the end."
Mahoney, who grew up on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, says he idolised Smith growing up and was trying to inspire his side by niggling the Storm legend.
"I just held on to him a bit longer and he didn't like it," Mahoney said.
"We're all good, we had a laugh at the end of it - that's footy.
"I've got a lot of respect for Cam Smith, he's done everything in the game."
Parramatta pair Kane Evans and Maika Sivo will also come under scrutiny for shoulder charges in the same game.
Referee Ben Cummins marched the Storm veteran, whose only other sin bin came in round four last year for back-chatting referee Matt Cecchin in their clash with Cronulla.
Rugby league commentator Phil Gould was outraged by the Smith sin bin decision.
"I think he's trying to slap at his arm and he just catches him in the forehead but it's a nothing - it's an absolute nothing, an absolute nothing, an absolute nothing. What a disgrace," Gould said on the Nine Network.
Smith is likely to be charged with contrary conduct, which might be a $1500 fine if the match review committee give him the same penalty as South Sydney's Cody Walker. The Rabbitohs' playmaker was sin binned for a similar offence in Friday night's finals win over Manly.
If he is charged with striking, Smith might miss game time, with a grade-one charge carrying a 200-point base penalty.
In 2008, Smith missed Melbourne's 40-0 grand-final loss to Manly through suspension.
Smith was rubbed out for two weeks for a grapple tackle during the Storm's semi-final win over Brisbane, causing him to miss the rest of the finals series.