Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith attracted criticism for comments made to referee Gerard Sutton in the dying stages of Sunday night’s NRL grand final, and club CEO Dave Donaghy doubled down on them on Monday.
Smith escaped a fine from the NRL for questioning the integrity of Sutton when he said’I get it, everyone wants an exciting finish. But we are just the same as them’ to Sutton after Jerome Hughes was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul.
“Stop trying to pick little things out of our game to make an exciting finish,” Smith said.
Brandon Smith was sent from the field a short time later, but the depleted Storm were able to hold off the resurgent Penrith Panthers to take a 26-20 victory in the season decider.
The Storm captain copped plenty of criticism but was spared a fine by the NRL, but Donaghy could yet have to reach for the chequebook after seemingly doubling down on Smith’s suggestion that Sutton was trying to engineer a Penrith comeback.
Donaghy suggested had there been more time left to play in the match, that Sutton would have found more reasons to send Storm players from the ground.
“(If there was more time) I think Gerard Sutton would’ve found a couple of ways to send more of our players off,” Donaghy said during an interview with sports radio station SEN on Monday morning.
It comes after Panthers coach Ivan Cleary was fined $20,000, later reduced to $10,000, earlier in the season for suggesting the Canberra Raiders had been ‘managed’ back into their match in August.
Gerard Sutton brushes off Cam Smith comments
It's understood league central considers comments made on the field as different to those said after a game in a post-match press conference.
Sutton is also believed not to have taken offence to the situation, and had no real issue with the comments.
Meanwhile, Penrith have avoided any further grand final pain, with James Fisher-Harris set to escape a ban for a late tackle on Brandon Smith.
The Panthers prop was put on report for the first-half shot on Smith after he passed the ball, and charged with a grade-one dangerous contact on Monday.
However an early guilty plea will see him avoid any ban.
Had the New Zealand international been given a suspension, the ban would have carried over into the start of next season.
The 24-year-old was the only player charged out of the grand final.
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