Cameron Smith says his first reaction to rumors he was having an affair with Fox Sports presenter Yvonne Sampson had started laughing, but he admits they left his wife, Barb shaken.
From Alex McKinnon’s spinal injury and its aftermath, to his relationship with coach Craig Bellamy, to the diamond rings drama in his 400th game and his bizarre feud with Cooper Cronk, Smith’s story has been littered with high-profile moments.
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The book even goes into the reason why he struggled with a retirement decision for most of the season.
“What brings me to this is that Billy (Slater), Gal and JT all said they knew the exact moment when they couldn’t do it anymore and enough was enough. I didn’t wake up thinking, “No, I just can’t,” he wrote.
But he couldn’t be clearer about the social media rumors rocking his family in a series of excerpts from The courier mail Friday night.
Prior to the 2018 season, Smith was told of rumors that he was having an affair with Sampson, a claim all parties have denied.
After learning of the harmful gossip from his manager Isaac Moses, Smith “was so surprised that he started laughing” before turning his attention to the welfare of his wife, Barb and Sampson.
“Honestly, if I was going to have an affair – that I never would – why would I do this with someone as big as her? And in my own sport? “The extract reads.
“It was just gruesome… rumors that were completely wrong. When I told Barb, she was shocked. It was killing them.
“I could handle it, but I was concerned about her and Yvonne, who had been in our game for a long time and we all know how well respected she is.
“She was about to get married and it was just so sad. When I first interviewed her, I felt for her. ”
Sampson married Channel 9 reporter Chris O’Keefe in October 2018.
Sampson and Barb Smith reportedly even exchanged text messages to check each other’s wellbeing, and Sampson even envisioned the possibility of whipping up the rumors about an episode of Fox Sports. League life however, in 2018 Smith decided to let it happen.
Smith unwittingly played an unfortunate role in one of the more terrifying moments seen on an NRL field.
On Monday, March 24, 2014, knight striker Alex McKinnon suffered a career-related and life-changing spinal injury that left him in a wheelchair.
While McKinnon was on the lawn, Smith argued with the umpire about his team being fined for lifting McKinnon in a tackle.
He still doesn’t apologize for his actions, but claims he didn’t realize how serious the injury was.
The Storm players wanted to visit McKinnon at the hospital but were told he couldn’t have visitors and they would not be welcome.
“The truth is, what happened to Alex shook us all and it wasn’t long before the barbs came out for the Melbourne Storm,” he wrote.
“The charge was that our defense system was dangerous and on that occasion the consequences were devastating.”
It led to one 60 minutes Episode where McKinnon spoke about the incident and made Smith feel like he was being portrayed as a heartless villain.
Smith was at the Origin camp when the episode aired and was reportedly angry and refused to interview Channel 9 after Origin.
Smith and McKinnon later met, with McKinnon apologizing for what he said while Smith told the former knight that his apology was unnecessary.
Smith was still angry on Channel 9, however, and after meeting with Nine chief Hugh Marks and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg to ask why he wasn’t asked to comment, Smith was told, “They didn’t have that Feeling that I had to be there ”.
He was later excused Die Footy Show but was furious after it was given by Paul Vautin rather than a nine manager.
“I went away pissed off that night … after everything that happened, they couldn’t even understand the apology properly,” he wrote.
THE FAMOUS RING
Smith admits that the drama that followed Todd Greenberg’s gesture of giving Barb a diamond ring nearly retired the legend.
It was his 400th game that made him the first player to hit the milestone. Back then, NRL CEO Greenberg wanted to honor his record and give the Smiths a token of affection.
Smith received a Waterford crystal soccer ball while Barb received a ring.
“It was said that the money could have been better spent on grassroots football. I couldn’t believe what had become of our game. This had exceeded the mark. And Barb was devastated, ”writes Smith.
“What was worse, we were accused of taking money away from where it was supposed to be spent – as if we were stealing money from junior clubs.
“Things got out of hand and at the end of the 2019 season it forced me to ask myself some serious questions. Should I remove myself from the game? Or keep playing and subject my family to this undesirable test. ”
Barb offered to return the ring, but Smith said she still had it.
The Storm Within by Cameron Smith with Andrew Webster, Allen & Unwin, MSRP $ 49.99. Available from November 16th.
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