‘Refs are scared of him’: Legend’s attack on Smith, Storm
FORMER Kangaroos captain Max Krilich has launched an extraordinary attack on Cameron Smith, claiming the Melbourne Storm skipper doesn't play "in the spirit of the game."
Krilich demanded NRL referees stop being "scared" of 401-game veteran Smith, whose Storm side were "ruining the game of rugby league" with their wrestling tactics.
In a pre-emptive strike ahead of his former side Manly's trip to face the Storm in Melbourne on Saturday night, Krilich said Smith's slowdown tactics have bamboozled referees.
"Cameron comes in as the third tackler and is then the last man up. He slows it up to perfection - he's the master," Krilich said.
"He is third man in, rolling all over the ball. This has gone on for many years."
Krilich, the former Manly premiership-winning captain, said Smith is able to get away with it through his experience and standing in the game
"Melbourne lay all over the ball and the players but it's ruled play on because it's Cameron," he said.
"He will stand there and complain and the referees will say: 'Oh, c'mon, Cameron'. It's just not on. They've got to be tough.
"What he does isn't in the spirit of the game - it's not right - and he is getting away with it.
"The referees are scared to penalise him and it seems everything he does is squeaky clean. We need the referees to toughen up. I have no doubt the referees are very intimidated by him.
"They are scared of him and it's a disgrace."
Manly benefited from quick play-the-balls in last weekend's 12-point win over Parramatta, but will find it harder rolling through the ruck against the Storm at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
"There are 15 other teams in the competition but every time they go to Melbourne they are behind the eight-ball," Krilich said.
"To be brutally honest, Melbourne are the kings of wrestle. They strangle games and have made it an art form and they are ruining the game of rugby league by wrestling.
"For many years, Melbourne has had a leg-up and we have to put a stop to it. People ask me how he is allowed to get away with it and I say 'Because he's Cameron Smith.' He is allowed to do whatever he wants.
"But, look, Cameron is doing the best for his side and he's getting away with it. That's the sad fact and the NRL have let it happen. They need referees to stand up. Melbourne always has three in tackles and Smith is always last man up, flop tackles.
"Smith is a fantastic player and he is doing his best for the team. He is as good as any other player in the competition so if he can get away with it, then good on him."
Melbourne have long been accused of being the competition's premier wrestling side but Storm officials laugh off the accusations.
NRL head of football Graham Annesley hit back on Tuesday, denying referees were intimidated by Smith.
"Our great game evokes all kinds of passionate opinion, but referees have to remain objective and control games based solely on what unfolds in front of them," said Annesley, with Grant Atkins and Peter Gough appointed to Saturday's match.
"I'm confident they will do just that regardless of who plays in any particular game."