Cameron Smith has reportedly 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 executive producer Tom Malone confirmed Smith was not approached for his side out of respect to McKinnon and his family, who were telling their story publicly for the first time.
“60 Minutes chose not to contact Cameron Smith before our story went to air, because this was Alex’s story, told by Alex and his family and friends,” Malone told NewsCorp Australia.
Malone said 60 Minutes offered Smith the chance to be interviewed for this Sunday’s show, but he turned it down.
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 in camp with the Maroons and is yet to respond to the comments.