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NRL refs paranoid on player safety: Smith

Referees have become overcautious in their approach to NRL player safety, according to Cameron Smith.
NRL refs paranoid on player safety: Smith
by AAP

By James MacSmith

SYDNEY, May 17 AAP - Referees have become overcautious in their approach to NRL player safety, according to Cameron Smith.

Smith was highly critical of referee Gerard Sutton in Melbourne's 27-14 win over South Sydney on Friday night.

The Australian, Queensland and Storm captain was incensed over a penalty awarded to the Rabbitohs midway through the second half, in which Melbourne utility Ryan Hinchcliffe was ruled to have illegally taken out the legs of Souths halfback Adam Reynolds after a kick.

"Are you penalising that? Are you guys serious this year? This is rugby league," Smith could be heard saying to Sutton over the referees microphone after the penalty was awarded.

Smith later said he felt NRL officials were erring too far on the side of caution in such matters.

The claims came in the same week that many in the game criticised the rating of Greg Bird's dangerous throw that threatened to rub him out of the State of Origin series - before the grading of the tackle and the subsequent ban were reduced at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday.

"I think we're getting a little bit paranoid with the whole player safety," Smith said.

"I'm all for player safety - don't get me wrong.

"But to go as far as to penalise a guy that just went out to put kick pressure on and turned his back, at best, it was accidental contact. He didn't go out to attack him. You know when people are going to attack people's legs or not.

"If you're going to attack someone's legs, you dive straight at their legs when they're kicking. Everyone knows you can't do that and Ryan Hinchcliffe didn't do that.

"He's gone out to put kick pressure on, which he's asked to do by the coaches and teammates, and every team does it.

"I cannot see what else Ryan is meant to do there."


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