Cameron Smith has defended his changeroom address to the Warriors this season, saying there was nothing sinister about his gesture and claiming he had no idea the intimate moment was being filmed.
The Warriors relocated to Australia in 2020 because of COVID-19 in order to keep the NRL season alive, making the huge sacrifice of separating from their families for the good of the competition.
In June, coach Stephen Kearney was sacked and then days later the Storm hammered the Warriors 50-6 in Round 7. After the game, cameras caught Smith and Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy addressing their dejected rivals in their changeroom, thanking the Warriors for giving up so much.
Some critics said it was poor form, accusing the Storm of invading the Warriors' space and being condescending. The match was Todd Payten's first as head coach of an NRL side and he was shattered after suffering such a heavy loss, painting a despondent figure in the corner while Smith and Bellamy spoke.
Some pundits suggested their thanks would have been the last thing Payten wanted to hear after copping such a hiding.
In his newly released autobiography The Storm Within, Smith couldn't understand why some people were upset with his speech, and said the very reason he paid tribute to the Warriors off the field was because he wasn't seeking any attention.
"We owed them a lot," Smith writes. "The least we could do was thank them, as other clubs had done.
"Other teams had delivered a tribute on the field, but that wasn't my style. I'm not saying there was anything wrong with that, but if you've read this far (in the book) you'll have realised I don't do things to get pats on the back."
Smith thanked the Warriors, acknowledged the pride they have in their jersey and encouraged them to "keep your heads up and look after each other".
"That's all I said," Smith writes. "The next day, we were hammered by some in the media for rubbing their noses in it after winning the game. I didn't expect anything less!
"The Warriors were shattered after the loss, but they weren't hostile towards us at all.
"We didn't go in there out of pity. We were thanking them for what they were doing.
"If I'd seen the camera in the corner of the dressing room, I would've covered it up. For starters, it got a great shot of the bald spot on the back of my head.
"Second, I didn't want the media to see a private moment between us and the Warriors."