NRL: Smith cleared of Hopoate-like poke

Jeremy Smith. Photo / Getty Images
Jeremy Smith. Photo / Getty Images

The NRL has avoided a repeat of the infamous John Hopoate finger-poking controversy with the match review committee finding an incident involving Cronulla's Jeremy Smith to be a "prank gone wrong".

The committee reviewed an incident from the Sharks' loss to North Queensland on Saturday night in which Smith's hand appears to make contact with Cowboys winger Kalifa Faifai Loa's backside.

The 63rd minute incident, which occurred after Faifai Loa was tackled by his cousin Smith, was brought to the committee's attention on Wednesday night, an NRL statement said.

"The committee established that there was no complaint from Kalifa Faifai Loa on which a contrary conduct charge could be based," the statement read.

Committee chairman Greg McCallum said the former St George Illawarra teammates had been involved in a practical joke.

"From the statements we have been given this appears to have been something of a prank gone wrong between the players," he said.

"The fact there was no animosity between two players who are in fact members of the same family does not change the fact that the field is a public environment and one in which the image of the game has to be protected.

"For that reason the matter warranted investigation but we are satisfied that there is no further action required in this instance."

Former Australian representative John Hopoate was banned for 12 weeks in 2001 after he notoriously poked three Cowboys players while playing for the Wests Tigers.

- AAP

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