David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Melbourne Storm captain may avoid censure after controversial tackle

Cameron Smith of the Storm. Photo / Getty
Cameron Smith of the Storm. Photo / Getty

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney believes Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith's relatively clean judiciary record will see him escape censure for a controversial lifting tackle in last night's 26-10 NRL loss at Mt Smart Stadium.

On a night that saw Smith beat his Queensland and Australian teammate Johnathan Thurston to eclipsing 2000 career points by less than an hour, the Australian captain could yet have a case to answer with the NRL's match review committee.

Down 18-10 13 minutes into the second-half, the Warriors were searching for a much needed third try when Smith was pinged for a dangerous tackle on front-rower Sam Lisone.

It was the third-straight penalty to the home side in five minutes, but the incident escaped closer inspection despite Smith being spoken to by the referee about the tackle going beyond the horizontal.

Kearney, a former Storm teammate and close friend of Smith's, joked the 33-year-old hooker was a "protected species" and suggested his reputation as one of the game's cleanskins would see him avoid a midweek appointment with the judiciary.

"I'm not sure," Kearney said of the incident. "He's a protected species isn't he, Cameron.
"No, he's a very good friend, so I shouldn't say that.

"I couldn't tell you, I couldn't see it clear enough. But I think he's got a pretty clean record so I think that will help him."

Warriors hooker Issac Luke had a front-row view of the tackle but downplayed the lack of further action taken by the onfield officials.

"Obviously I was getting into dummy half there but like Mooks (Kearney) said, it's out of our control.

"We can't focus on that we just have to move on."

Storm coach Craig Bellamy did not get a clear view from the coach's box and said they would deal with the potential repercussions if Smith is cited in the next 24 hours.

"I didn't actually see it closely and it looked a bit innocuous when I first saw it (and said) 'what's that for' but one of the guys in the box said it was a lifted tackle," said Bellamy.

"So I'd have to have a look at it again and, at the end of the day, it's not what I think, it's what the review committee think and we'll go from there."

Smith, who famously missed the Storm's 2008 grand final win over Manly due to a controversial two-week suspension for a grapple tackle in the semi-final against Brisbane, echoed Bellamy's sentiments and was not worried following his side's second straight win to start their season.

"No, I'm not," said Smith. "And it's out of our hands too, so we'll see what happens.

"I think the call came from the assistant referee (Chris Butler), to be honest. He said that the player was in a dangerous position so it wasn't from the main referee."

Meanwhile, ahead of next Friday's round three clash against the Bulldogs in Dunedin, the Warriors will be sweating on the fitness of captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck who departed the field late in the first-half with concussion.​

- NZ Herald

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