Smith to keep McKinnon matter ‘private’

Cameron Smith has indicated he will talk with Alex McKinnon privately in a bid to address the former NRL forward’s criticism of him.

McKinnon was highly upset during an interview last week with the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes, over Smith’s conduct at AAMI Park in March last year following the tackle that ended his rugby league career.

The program initially decided not to give Smith a right of the reply to McKinnon’s comments and the Australian, Queensland and Melbourne captain later rejected overtures to respond to the criticism a week later, on Sunday night.

Smith was also scheduled to appear on Peter Sterling’s ‘Sterlo’ on Fox Sports but that was shelved ahead of the Storm’s trip to Auckland for their clash with the Warriors on Sunday.

Smith declined to comment on the matter after Queensland’s midweek record State of Origin win but addressed it following Melbourne’s 28-14 loss to the Warriors.

“It was great to win on Wednesday night and you have to adjust quickly to come back to club football,” Smith told the post-match press conference.

“But the personal stuff going around at the moment, that will be handled privately.”

The issue dominated much discussion in the lead-up to Queenland’s huge win in the Origin decider, with Smith moving his traditional gameday eve press conference forward to avoid being questioned about the issue.

As McKinnon was carried from the field by a number medical personnel during last year’s game after an eight-minute stoppage, Smith continued arguing with referee Gerard Sutton about the merits of a penalty awarded due to the tackle.

“If he doesn’t duck his head that doesn’t happen, anyone who ducks their head now is that going to be a penalty?” Smith can be heard on footage over the referee’s microphone.

“Is he still debating, is he f***ing serious?” McKinnon asked after being shown the clip by 60 Minutes.

“Wouldn’t you just shut up? You see someone with eight, nine people around them and you want to debate a f***ing penalty.

“That’s the Australian captain there … so well done … it is f***ing ridiculous.”

McKinnon said he had not heard from Smith since the incident.

“I don’t know whether he has tried to make contact through the club but if Jordan McLean (who was suspended for his role in the tackle which resulted in McKinnon’s spinal injury) can make contact … I haven’t heard anything from him (Smith).

“I’m not angry, it just reassures the type of person that he is, at least Jordan reached out.”

Meanwhile, Canberra sat a win outside the NRL’s top eight on Sunday night, having accounted for Newcastle 36-22 in the nation’s capital 48 hours earlier to hand the Knights their 11th loss in 12 games.

Mitchell Pearce hit back at critics of his Origin III effort leading Sydney Roosters to their fourth successive win, a comfortable 24-4 result over Penrith on Saturday.

And Brisbane navigated the Origin period undefeated for the first time since 1999, courtesy of their 16-8 win over Canterbury to stay two wins clear at the top of the NRL ladder.

On Sunday Cronulla handed St George Illawarra their fifth successive loss 28-8.

On Monday Gold Coast host Manly in the conclusion to round 18.

Parramatta, South Sydney, North Queensland and Wests Tigers enjoyed a bye.

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