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March 13, 2021

Alex McKinnon makes surprising call on Cameron SmithAlex McKinnon’s life changed forever in 2014.

Filed under: Outdoors — admin @ 11:04 pm

Alex McKinnon has put aside any personal grievances he once had with Cameron Smith to laud the Melbourne legend as the greatest player rugby league has ever seen.

Smith announced his retirement last week, ending months of speculation about his future since the Storm beat Penrith in last year’s grand final. And while many have praised the 37-year-old as the GOAT, he’s always had his critics, many of whom took exception to the nature of his announcement on the eve of the NRL season.

However, McKinnon is on Smith’s side.

“I have no doubt and no hesitation in saying Cameron Smith is the greatest player I have seen and the greatest player to have played the game,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“If I bumped into him I’d like to congratulate him on his career.”

It’s a surprising call given McKinnon and his family once had huge issues with Smith, filthy with the ex-Kangaroos captain’s conduct in the aftermath of a horrific accident that left McKinnon a quadriplegic.

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Playing for the Knights in 2014, a tackle gone wrong saw McKinnon badly injured but Smith argued with the referee after the Newcastle forward was taken off the ground by medical staff following a long break in play.

Smith, not realising how serious McKinnon’s injuries were, complained the tackle should not have resulted in a penalty — and attracted plenty of backlash for it.

Seeing footage of Smith arguing with referee Gerard Sutton for the first time in 2015, McKinnon said: “Is he still debating? Is he f***ing serious? Wouldn’t you just shut up?”

McKinnon said while Jordan McLean, the player who tackled him, had reached out personally, Smith hadn’t. McKinnon’s emotional father also said at the time he could never forgive Smith for the way he acted that night.

However, the ex-Knights player says that’s water under the bridge.

“There is no bad feelings from me or anyone in my family towards him any more. None at all,” he said. “We have all moved past that.”

Smith had gone underground since moving from Melbourne to the Gold Coast at the end of last season, leaving everyone guessing as to whether he would play on in 2021 with either the Broncos or Titans.

He put those rumours to bed last week but Fox League host Yvonne Sampson hasn’t ruled out a comeback down the line, even floating the possibility of Smith missing the game so much he could return before the transfer deadline of August 1.

“Absolutely, he could do anything, because he truly is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time),” Sampson told the Big Sports Breakfast last week when asked about the possibility of Smith taking this year off to spend time with his family, before returning in 2022.

“Of course he could. I’m not ruling out the fact that we wouldn’t see him before August 1.

“People have retired before — they’re drawing comparisons between when Alfie (Allan Langer) came back in 2001, Sonny Bill Williams has come back, Freddy (Brad Fittler) came back out of retirement.

“I think Cameron Smith will deserve this time off just to relax and live the life that he probably has always envisaged for his family.

“But just knowing the competitor we have witnessed over the last 20 years, it’s going to be hard for a future Immortal to just get into the daily grind of lunches, peak hour traffic.

“Do I think Cameron will just sort of fade into oblivion? I can’t see it.”


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