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Australia

NRL knuckles down as Smith issued concerning act notice

Cameron Smith is alleged to have sensationally squeezed the head of Canberra's Bailey Simonsson while using his knuckles as the most capped and polarising player was formally issued a concerning notice act by the NRL.

A disturbing image of the player regarded as the greatest of all time showed him appearing to twist the ears of the Raiders No. 14 during Canberra's amazing come-from-behind victory in the Storm's backyard on Saturday.

Cameron Smith appears to go to work on Canberra's Bailey Simonsson while pulling the jersey over his head.

Cameron Smith appears to go to work on Canberra's Bailey Simonsson while pulling the jersey over his head.Credit:AAP

The NRL were unimpressed Smith tried to pull the jersey over the ears of Simonsson, and while it was not worthy of a charge, felt the need to officially remind him he was out of line.

The Herald has learned Simonsson felt excruciating pain on both sides of the head from what he thought to be Smith's knuckles. Simonsson reacted by shoving Smith who was later told by referee Ben Cummins he had been penalised for ''rubbish on the face''.

The Storm on Monday night vehemently denied Smith had tried to use his knuckles, and had he done so there would have been a much greater reaction from Simonsson.

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"We want as little contact with the head and neck of opponents as much as possible,'' NRL head of football Graham Annesley said.

"The video I've seen doesn't show Cameron pulling any ears. It shows him grabbing a hold of the jersey around the collar, and then he pulls the jersey up over his ears.

"It's being portrayed he was yanking at the ears, the video proves that doesn't actually happen, but there is contact with the head where it's not necessary.''

Raiders boss Don Furner, who saw his captain Jarrod Croker kneed from behind in back play by Smith at the same ground during the 2016 finals series, could not believe the latest on-field act by the Storm to try and slow down play.

"It's bit embarrassing getting caught doing something like that,'' Furner said.

"I'm glad it was called out. It looks comical now when you see the way he carried on afterwards with the ref. I thought the referee handled it well.''

Smith appeared to have his own ears pulled by Canberra's fiery Englishman John Bateman moments before. Bateman, however, is understood to have become fed up with the Storm veteran's antics in tackles most of the game.

South Sydney just last week ripped into Melbourne over their wrestling techniques and why it caused so many rival supporters to boo the competition leaders.

Annesley a couple of weeks ago reminded players there would be a clamp down on back-chatting officials, and said on Monday: "Players shouldn't be surprised if they find themselves on the wrong end of penalties if they persist with that.''

In what was clearly the best game of the weekend - and in what could easily be a grand final preview - Annesley was also impressed with the officiating from head referee Ben Cummins.

"It was a high-pressure game, very intense all the way through, the scoreline and Raiders comeback put officials under enormous pressure, but they performed well,'' Annesley said.

I'm not being overly critical of people who jump to that conclusion because they didn't have access to this audio. We do.

Graham Annesley on Cronulla's controversial winner

The most controversial call over the weekend was the Bronson Xerri try against St George Illawarra and whether Cronulla back-rower Wade Graham had touched the ball in the lead-up.

Annesley said the right decision was made, Graham did in fact touch the ball and it went backwards.

There are two minutes of audio that was never heard during the TV broadcast, which confirmed the bunker agreed Graham had touched the ball, but it deflected backwards and there was no reason to deny the Sharks the match winner.

"I think the clear assumption many people made was the video referee reached the conclusion the ball hadn't touched Wade Graham when in fact that wasn't the key point on reaching the decision,'' Annesley said during his briefing.

"The key point reaching the decision was whether the ball deflected backwards or forwards.

"I'm not being overly critical of people who jump to that conclusion because they didn't have access to this audio. We do, we reviewed it this morning, and when you review it in the context of audio that's available, it presents a very different picture about the incident and the ultimate decision.''

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