Cameron Smith has declined an offer by the Nine Network to respond to Alex McKinnon’s scathing criticism of the Queensland and Test skipper.
Ex-Newcastle forward McKinnon told the channel’s 60 Minutes program on Sunday night he remained upset over on-field comments Smith made to referees following the tackle in March last year that left him in a wheelchair with a severe spinal injury.
Showed a replay of the fateful tackle on the program, McKinnon said it was “f…..g ridiculous” that the Melbourne captain continued arguing with the referee about being penalised as the injured player was assisted and carried off the field.
60 Minutes confirmed Smith was not approached for his perspective out of respect to McKinnon and his family because they were telling their story publicly for the first time.
“We have offered Cameron Smith the chance to be interviewed for this Sunday’s program, but he has declined our offer,” a Nine spokesperson told AAP in a statement.
It’s understood Smith is upset he was not given the opportunity to defend himself on the initial program, and will refuse all interview requests from Nine surrounding Wednesday night’s State of Origin decider.
McKinnon said he had not heard from Smith since the incident.
The Storm issued a statement on Sunday saying Smith and other Melbourne players had asked to visit McKinnon when he was in hospital.
McKinnon’s remarks have provoked a strong reaction across the rugby league world ahead of Origin III in Brisbane, both supporting and critical of Smith.
Smith is yet to respond to the comments from camp with his Maroons teammates, who have rallied around him.