NRL 2020: Kiwi star Brandon Smith fractures jaw, as Storm coach Craig Bellamy fires up over Eels' gamesmanship

An irate Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy stormed out of a media conference following his side's 14-0 loss to the Eels, after questioning Parramatta's gamesmanship and the consistency from the referees. 

During the first half, Melbourne had debutant Cooper Johns and prop Albert Vete were both put on report for crusher tackles Maika Sivo and Nathan Brown respectively, while NZ international  Nelson Asofa Solomona was sin-binned in the second for a high tackle on Marata Niukore.

Surprisingly, Niukore went unpunished later in the game for a similar tackle on Brandon Smith, which resulted in a fractured jaw for the NZ international. 

The 24-year-old is set for a four- to eight-week stint on the sidelines. 

After the game, Eels coach Brad Arthur slammed claims that his players were milking penalties, but Bellamy said he disagrees. 

Earlier this week, the NRL announced crusher tackles will draw a minimum one-game ban due to  "concerning increase" in the dangerous tackling technique, which is when a player drops his weight on the back of the head/neck of a tackled opponent.

Maika Sivo after being on the wrong end of a crusher tackle.
Maika Sivo after being on the wrong end of a crusher tackle. Photo credit: Getty

"Whether they are [crushers] or not, you get people turning in tackles, and I think I made that comment earlier in the week," said Bellamy. 

"No one goes out there to consciously do a crusher tackle on the opposition. With all due respect, there was one on one of our blokes too that didn't get picked up [Tom Eisenhuth after a possible crusher from Marata Niukore] but our bloke got up and played the ball.

"At the end of the day that's out of my jurisdiction what happens there. Whatever will be, will be."

That's when Bellamy left the press conference, confirming Smith's broken jaw and accused match officials of "inconsistency."

The injury to Smith adds to the Storm's massive casualty ward, which includes Cameron Smith, Cameron Munster and Jahrome Hughes.

Smith's injury came hours after the Sydney Morning Herald revealed his agent has told the Storm that he will request a release should his namesake, Cameron, sign on for next season.

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