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Cameron Smith claims wrestling ‘good’ for rugby league in tell-all response to biography backlash


Cameron Smith claims wrestling ‘good’ for rugby league in tell-all response to biography backlash

Cameron Smith has rubbished suggestions he’s running for cover following the backlash from his recently released autobiography.

The much-awaited book titled ‘The Storm Within’, publicly unveiled on Monday, has caused a stir with the Storm champion lifting the lid on a number of controversies and delivering his side of events that have arisen through his 19-year NRL career.

Among them, Smith, who still remains uncertain of his playing future, hits out at former NRL CEO David Gallop over the handling of the Storm salary cap cheating scandal of 2010, while comments towards his fractured relationship with former teammate Cooper Cronk have further lit the flame.

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Smith has been hounded this week after it was revealed he canceled up to 30 media commitments planned on Tuesday to promote his book, accused of attempting to hide from the scrutiny that has followed the biography’s release.

But in a tell-all interview with SEN‘s Andrew Voss on Wednesday, the Storm great clarified how a family situation forced him to bail on his promotional tour.

“I had some personal things to attend to yesterday and unfortunately that sort of compromised my opportunity to fulfill my obligations with a lot of the media outlets,” Smith told SEN.

“I know it was a late change but I informed my management and Allen and Unwin, who are the publishers of my book, and unfortunately it was just something I couldn’t get out of and couldn’t change.

“Today was meant to be my day off from this week’s promotion and the message was simple, I spoke to my management and said please change what was scheduled for Tuesday to Wednesday if there are spots available.

“There’s absolutely no way I’m ducking for cover. If you’d followed my career, particularly over the last three of four years, I’ve copped criticism plenty of times and I’d like to think I haven’t run and ducked for cover anytime.”

Smith on his accusations leveled at David Gallop

Addressing his decade-long stoush with Gallop, Smith claims his anger towards the Storm salary cap scandal has “softened” in recent years.

Yet he levels direct blame at the former NRL boss for issuing sanctions to the club over a year before an official investigation into the matter was finalised.

Gallop has since responded via an interview with News Corp, in which he brands Smith’s side of the story as “plain wrong”, accusing him of failing to point the finger at the culprits within Melbourne’s administration at the time.

“The situation at the Storm was under investigation for months,” Gallop told News Corp.

“Our investigation had uncovered evidence of substantial non-disclosure of player payments putting the Storm over the cap for a number of years, including evidence of a dual contracting system being used for champion players.

“Cameron should direct his criticism to the culprits, not the NRL administration which acted fairly and appropriately on the facts in front of it. Indeed, we followed the NRL rules agreed to by all clubs.”

Smith says that while his aim was not to blame Gallop for Melbourne’s misconduct, he suggests the NRL’s treatment of the Storm compared with other clubs to have breached salary cap rules since has proven unfair.

“I understand it’s going to create some controversy but at no stage am I blaming David Gallop for what happened at our club and in saying that he had nothing to do with us breaching the salary cap,” he said.

“What I was most disappointed with was the way the entire situation was handled and how punishments were handed down first before an investigation was done.

“We’ve seen other events regarding salary cap breaches with other clubs since 2010 and they’ve been handled quite differently and results have been different

“I’m not saying the results wouldn’t have been different than they have been with us, they may not have been, that’s not for us to talk about now.”

Smith says wrestling is ‘good’ for rugby league

Over his nearly two-decade-long rugby league career, Smith has been made the poster boy of the wrestle in rugby league, defensive tactics claimed to have been pioneered by Melbourne.

In his book, Smith addresses the wrestle and sensationally attempts to shift blame onto Wayne Bennett, by recalling his time under the super coach in Queensland Origin camp in 2003, where Bennett had hired a specialist wrestling coach.

Clarifying the stunning accusations, Smith tells SEN he wanted to point out that all clubs and coaches have contributed to introducing wrestling maneuvers into the game, not just the Storm.

And in a comment that is sure to further spark furore, he then claimed wrestling was a positive facet of rugby league.

“I think it is [good for rugby league],” Smith said of wrestling, before admitting he’d practiced the art.

“I think it’s come about through a lot of hard work and a lot of training. 

“This is why I hope people and particularly rugby league fans pick up my book and have a read because it explains how the Melbourne Storm were able to become such a successful side

“It’s not only because we’ve had great coaching and great players. It’s because we’ve put in a lot of hard work and paid attention to small parts of the game we felt would give us an advantage. 

“All I’m trying to outline is the Melbourne Storm and wrestling go hand in hand, according to a lot of fans and particularly the media, and that’s fine, because we’re not denying it.

“We practice it and we practice it very hard, but other clubs and other coaches they can not sit there and single out the Melbourne Storm for trying to involve wrestling in the game. Everyone does it.”

Retirement decision

Smith finally came to the decision of his playing future, with the three-time premiership champion still mulling over whether to continue into a record 20th NRL season.

Fans presumed the release of his book would mark the end of Smith’s career, but the 430-game veteran insists he’s still yet to decide.

However, Smith said he expects to have made the call by the end of the year.

“At the time of pushing the button to print the book, I didn’t know,” Smith said of his retirement decision.

“It’s been a really strange year. Just over two weeks ago we won a premiership and unfortunately it’s been very difficult this year to try and celebrate that and really soak it up.

“It’s been a bit of a different few weeks after the grand final which we’re used to, where you try and celebrate what you’ve achieved.

“I’ve just been trying to enjoy that and relax with the family but I guess over the next little bit before Christmas that’ll be the time where I’ll have to make my decision about next year.”