Will ref grab rule Cam Smith out of Anzac test?

Storm skipper Cameron Smith touches referee during their game against the Warriors. Photo / Fox Sport
Storm skipper Cameron Smith touches referee during their game against the Warriors. Photo / Fox Sport

Are we about to see the hypocrisy of Australian rugby league rear its ugly head today?

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga will today name his Australian team to face the world champion Kiwis in the Anzac test in Newcastle on May 6.

And it's certain the first name he will read out is current Australian, Queensland and Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith.

So what chance Smith will be cited today by the National Rugby League on a charge of touching the referee during the Storm's 42-0 walloping of the Warriors in Melbourne last night?

Smith should come under scrutiny from the NRL's match review committee for a 64th minute incident with referee Matt Cecchin. Late in the game and with Storm leading the Warriors 34-0 at AAMI Park, Cecchin got a little too close to the ruck with Melbourne in possession.

As Smith moved in to clear the ball he was forced to place both hands on Cecchin who was standing almost directly behind the tackle.

The incident wasn't picked up on-field at the time but Smith should have a case to answer if the MRC is consistent with its stance so far this season on players touching referees.

Four players have been charged over placing their hands on a referee so far this season with the latest being Penrith's New Zealand test prop Sam McKendry who was found guilty of contrary conduct by the judiciary last Wednesday night, ruling him out the Panthers' weekend clash with Cronulla.

The Kiwi test prop argued he made unintentional contact with Maxwell and Panthers coach Anthony Griffin predicted there would be a lot more players charged in the coming weeks now that McKendry's verdict had set a precedent.

Angry Panthers fans took to social media to protest the NRL's lack of consistency over the issue.

Panthers fans were outraged that Thurston, who was pictured extending his hand and placing it on Klein's chest in the 60th minute of North Queensland's round six win over the Panthers a week and a half ago, was not charged.

McKendry was the fourth player charged with touching a referee this year along with Canterbury's David Klemmer, Parramatta's Kiwi test pivot Kieran Foran and Brisbane's James Roberts.

Klemmer's successfully fought his citation at the judiciary. Roberts and Foran both accepted early guilty pleas.

Smith's actions look no different to McKendry's but will he be charged today?

Kiwi fans will be cynical given the almost annual occurrence of a high profile New Zealander being suspended out of the Anzac test while Australian stars such as Thurston seem to regularly avoid similar charges.

The Kiwis already seem set to lose Broncos enforcer Adam Blair to a late and high tackle from last Friday night's big win over South Sydney, although a suspension seems deserved in that case. Blair looks like getting a five-week ban for the hit.

But if the NRL is to avoid further claims of double standards, it must look seriously at the Smith incident.

- NZ Herald

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