By STEVE MASCORD
MELBOURNE and Australia captain Cameron Smith has denied “playing” referees but says some rivals do themselves no favours with their overly-aggressive approach to match officials.
Wests Tigers coach Mick Potter and Parramatta’s Ricky Stuart have each suggested in recent weeks that established, star players with successful teams get better results from referees than struggling sides and players without the guile required to sweet-talk whistlers.
But Smith, who’ll lead Australia against New Zealand on Friday night at Canberra Stadium, tells The Age: “I don’t practice anything or think there’s an art to it.
“The only thing I do is go out and show them respect because I’d like them to respect me back.
“I see some games where there’s a bit of a heated relationship between some players and referees and I don’t think there’s any place for that in our game.”
After losing 26-12 to the Storm on April 8, Potter referred to “The influence people have over other people to cause results”. Stuart was fined $10,000 after saying following the loss to Gold Coast that his men were “easy to penalise”.
Stuart said: “We haven’t got any of the high profile players where you can get the penalty and milk the penalty”.
Asked if senior or high profile players curried more favour with referees, Smith said: “I don’t think so at all. That’s just my thoughts. You’ll have to ask a referee what they’re thinking.
“If you go out there and you approach them and you’re calm about everything … what’s the use of going and yelling at someone?
“You’re always going to get a pretty cold response.”
Friday’s referee, Ashley Klein, was found to have bungled a tackle count in last week’s Brisbane-North Queensland game. Johnathan Thurston, the current Australia five-eighth, said at the time: “You’ve got Ashley Klein, who’s been around for a while. You’d expect him to get the calls right.”
Smith also disputed suggestions that he and other captains “buy time” by questioning decisions.
“Myself, I don’t go out just for the sake of talking to someone,” he said. “If genuinely I don’t understand a decision made or why there’s a certain ruling, I’ll go out and ask the question then.
“I won’t go out and say ‘mate, what’s going on there?’ when I clearly know what happened. It’s a waste of my energy. Let’s just get on with the game.
“I think the referees appreciate that that. They don’t want to blow the whistle and stop the game and talk to a captain for no reason.
“If I want a clearer understanding of a ruling, that’s when I’ll go out and chat to them.”
The Storm’s next game is on Anzac Day against the Warriors at AAMI Park.
Filed for: THE AGE