Smith calls for NRL refs to police ruck

Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith claims he’s being suffocated at dummy-half, calling on NRL referees to police the ruck more closely as they had vowed in the pre-season to do.

Following their 18-14 win over Newcastle on Saturday at AAMI Park, Smith said some of his passes were going to ground because referees were allowing the markers to not be square at the play-the-ball.

The Storm have sent vision of the ploy to referees boss Tony Archer but haven’t heard back.

“We spoke to referees about the marker situation and how they were going to be pretty strong on their positioning,” Smith said.

“But at times I’m getting a lot of pressure from markers.

“There’s times when I’m picking the ball up and there’s a guy reaching and hitting my arm or there’s a guy almost in front of me.

“I’m not the quickest bloke but I’m not that slow.”

Storm assistant coach Adam O’Brien said it was hindering the Storm attack, which was largely impotent against the Knights.

Meanwhile, Smith said the Storm’s five-day turnaround – after losing their first game of the season to Cronulla on Monday – contributed to their uncharacteristically high error count.

The Knights were also backing up from a Monday loss in New Zealand.

Smith said it took complaints by Sydney teams for the NRL to finally address concerns about the tight scheduling.

The Storm finished 2015 with successive five-day breaks between games, which they complained about but Smith said they were dismissed.

“Craig (Bellamy) and I brought it up in Brisbane after the second turnaround, we managed to win against the Broncos and we were sort of told to shut our mouths and get on with it because everyone’s got to do it,” Smith said.

“We’ve been saying this for a long time now but it’s taken a couple of Sydney teams to get a rough trot for people to stand up and take notice.”

The NRL announced last month it would put in place additional accommodation and flight provisions while they would continue to reduce the amount of such fixtures in coming years.

Smith said the lack of time between games affected their recovery and preparation, with the Storm having only one ball session of 40 minutes between games while he felt for Newcastle, who flew straight to Melbourne to prepare.

“It’s a win-win for everyone if we get rid of the five day turnarounds,” Smith said.

“The broadcasters and fans will win because you’re going to see more high quality football.”

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