Melbourne Storm hooker or forward Brandon Smith has received a three-match ban after pleading guilty for abusing referee Adam Gee.
Smith, 26, pleaded guilty to calling referee Gee a ‘cheating b*****d’ in last Thursday’s loss to Cronulla Sharks in the NRL.
The New Zealand international was sin-binned in the 60th minute for comments made towards referee Gee as he got up to play the ball.
Smith’s lawyer, Nick Ghabar, argued that the Storm hooker’s clean record in the game should be taken into account, along with his honesty, early guilty plea and remorse following the incident.
Ghabar asked for a two-match suspension, before the panel settled with three.
“It’s not like he said it after a game at a press conference about the referee,” said Ghabar during the judiciary hearing.
“It was done in the heat of the moment. I hope that’s something you can take into account. After the game he actively sought a Storm official after the game to reach out to the referee.
“He’s prepared to accept and that’s something to his credit. I hope you can also take into account his good record and character.
“He’s played 100 games for the Storm and eight games for New Zealand. Out of that he has two relatively minor charges. Last year he had a Shoulder Charge and careless Grade One charge. This is in the context that he plays in the middle of the field at either lock, prop or hooker.”
The judiciary panel was Tony Puletua, Paul Simpkins and Geoff Bellew.
Brandon Smith: ‘I’ll accept any consequence you come up with’
NRL counsel Lachlan Gyles asked for a four-match ban, saying that Smith was questioning both the character and integrity of the official by calling him a “cheat”.
“The problem with calling a cheat, you were questioning his character and integrity,” Gyles said.
“You were making his job difficult. You’ve let down your club, the fans and officials. As a professional player you need to be able to show a better example. There’s really no excuse is there?”
Smith himself said during the hearing: “I’m not here to argue I’ve done the wrong thing. I just want to let everyone know I feel terrible and I’ll accept any consequence you come up with. I know I’ve done the wrong thing.”
He will miss games against Canberra, South Sydney Rabbitohs and New Zealand Warriors.