NRL news 2022, Brandon Smith suspension for referee cheat spray, Melbourne Storm, judiciary result, verdict
Melbourne superstar Brandon Smith has been suspended for calling an NRL referee a “cheating bastard”.
The utility forward was sin-binned and later charged with contrary conduct for yelling the slur at referee Adam Gee during the Storm’s loss to Cronulla on Thursday.
He was referred straight to the judiciary, where he pled guilty on Tuesday night, and after a one-hour hearing he was slapped with a three-game ban.
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Smith appeared from Melbourne via video link alongside Melbourne’s football boss Frank Ponissi. The judiciary panel featured Tony Puletua, Paul Simpkins and Geoff Bellew.
NRL counsel Lachlan Gyles requested a minimum four-week ban, while Smith’s representative Nick Ghabar argued two weeks was sufficient.
“It’s not like he said it after a game at a press conference about the referee. It was done in the heat of the moment,” Ghabar told the hearing.
Smith had a character reference provided by New Zealand Test coach Michael Maguire.
It was suggested Smith called Gee a “f—ing cheating prick”, but he claims he said “cheating bastard”.
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“In the tackle, I said ‘f*** me’ but that was not directed at the referee. I was super frustrated,” Smith said.
“I thought I deserved a penalty at the time. Frustration makes you say things. I got up and continued with ‘cheating bastard’ comment towards the ref. It was just a brain explosion.
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“It was just frustration and the heat of the moment, the team was down by 20. I was trying to get something going and in the heat of the moment. My performance was poor and my team’s performance was poor.
“I took it out on the wrong person. I said things I shouldn’t have said to a person.”
A contrite Smith copped his penalty on the chin.
“I’m not here to argue I’ve done the wrong thing,” he said.
“I just want to let everyone know I feel terrible and I’ll accept any consequence you come up with. I know I’ve done the wrong thing.”
Smith will miss Melbourne’s games against the Raiders, Rabbitohs, and Warriors.
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