Penrith Panthers have refuted suggestions by current Melbourne hooker Brandon Smith that they were interested in signing him.
Smith, 25, looks set to depart the Storm for Sydney Roosters in 2023. But he has ruffled feathers with an explosive podcast interview.
His current club are reportedly furious with the interview, in which he talked about a drinking culture at the club.
He also expressed his desire to win a Premiership for Sydney Roosters; despite still having a year left on his deal at Melbourne.
The NRL integrity unit has been asked to review the podcast and Smith could face a fine.
In a statement, Penrith said: “Smith identified Panthers as an NRL club that had expressed interest in acquiring his services during recent contract negotiations.
“The club strongly rejects this assertion.
“At no stage has Panthers expressed interest in acquiring Smith’s services. The club has had no contact with the Storm, Smith or his management.”
“While there would be no ill intent in making the comment, mistruths like this can and do have a tangible impact on our club’s actual business dealings.”
Brandon Smith causing a storm in Melbourne
Melbourne have since confirmed that Smith will leave the club at the end of 2022.
He has made 86 appearances since making his debut in 2017.
Storm CEO, Justin Rodski, said: “Recent comments made by Brandon in a podcast, and the way he expressed them, do not align with Storm’s values and the way we operate as a club.
“The statements have deeply offended current and former players, coaches, staff and board members and the club strongly rejects the comments made about the Storm culture.
“We acknowledge Brandon’s apology made on social media today and his willingness now to prepare for the 2022 season with Storm.
“Brandon has every right to explore future opportunities as any player would in his position. Ultimately we respect his decision to play football elsewhere from 2023.”