'Rubbish On The Face': Why Does The Game's Greatest Player Need To Do This?
Cameron Smith is a deadset NRL legend. But many also believe he's a cynical player who operates at the fringes of the rules.
The truth? Like most things, it's probably in the middle somewhere.
But events on the weekend have tipped the conversation in the direction of those who think Smith has gotten away with far too much, for far too long.
In the weekend's loss to the Canberra Raiders -- a dramatic match in which the Raiders erased an 18-0 deficit to win 22-18, Smith was pulled up by ref Ben Cummins for this ugly incident, in which he appeared to exert force with his clenched fist on the ear of Bailey Simonsson. Ouch.
Simonsson, a 21-year-old in his first year of NRL footy, can be seen grimacing at the attention from the 36-year-old, 408-game veteran who has captained his club for 14 seasons, and captained both his state and country for seven seasons.
We list just some of Smith's incredible career stats to illustrate his standing in the game, and to suggest that he's the last player who needs the niggly stuff to get ahead in the rugby league world.
And there are those who actually believe he's no nigglier than anyone else, and that the people who don't like his style of play are actually just upset at -- get out your Donald Trump voice -- SO MUCH WINNING.
If you read the replies to Warren Smith's tweet, you'll see that not many agree with his view. Not many at all. Here's just one example.
But even the most staunch Smith apologist would surely concede that the only man to play 400+ NRL games has no ordinary presence on a football field.
Smith is famous for arguing with refs about, well, everything. This tendency was brilliantly lampooned by sports satirist Denis Carnahan (the man behind the famous "That's in Queensland" rugby league anthem).
To the tune of MC Hammer's 'You Can't Touch This', Carnahan wrote the brilliant piss-take 'You Can't Touch Smith'. Enjoy.
Back to events last weekend. As it happens, referee Ben Cummins did indeed penalise Smith on that particular occasion for his ear grab, or ear rub or whatever it was, which today has been given the name the "wingnut tackle".
This spurred a rather amusing conversation between Smith and the ref:
Smith: I just wanted some clarification as to what that penalty was for there.
Cummins: Rubbish on the face mate, and it was you.
Smith: Hahahahah rubbish on the face. OK no worries.
Cummins: I can only say it so many times, I can't tell you any more.
Smith: Fair duinkum, rubbish on the face.
Fair dinkum indeed.
The latest development in all this is that Smith has now received a "concerning act notice" from the NRL for his rubbish on the face.
This doesn't mean he's been charged and will have to appear before the NRL judiciary. Nor does it mean he has been accused of rubbing or pulling Simonsson's ear.
The notice appears to be about the fact -- wilfully or otherwise -- he forcefully exerted pressure on Simonsson's head with his knuckles.
Cutting through the jargon, the NRL is basically just saying that whatever Smith did looked a bit suss, and that he shouldn't do it again.
Which is basically what the majority of rugby league fans have been saying about Smith for years, over too many incidents to count.