OPINION | Why The New Captain's Challenge Rule Will Only Benefit Cameron Smith

"The Cam Smith Rule"


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By Liam Flanagan

Don't worry about the testimonial matches, the dinners, the trophies or the diamond rings for his wife because the NRL has finally given Cam Smith the greatest gift of all... a Captain's Challenge. 

The news that the challenge system is only a couple of trial games - and an official rubber stamp from the powers that be away from being made law - Is just the tonic Old Man Cam was looking for as he approaches his 19th season at the top level.  

Sure, just because there hasn’t been this rule previously hasn’t stopped Cam from approaching the referees to do anything from debate their decisions to talk about the weather.

And yes, the NRL have waited until the final year (I'll believe it when I see it) of his career to introduce the law. 

But the fact remains that we get to see possibly the most intelligent on-field player in the history of the sport, who's routinely influenced the behaviour of referees over his career simply by his presence and apparently delightful conversation manner, be armed with a the ultimate "tool" when it comes to on field disputes.

And it's going to drive everyone who's not a Melbourne Storm fan CRAZY. 

As if Cam Smith wasn't despised enough for simply being the maybe the best player the sport has ever seen. The future immortal is now going to be given the opportunity to sidle up to the referees in his inimitable fashion and tell them they’re wrong and he’s right... AND IT'S IN THE RULES. 

Part of the excitement about the new rule comes in potential for catastrophe. No doubt we will see certain captains waste their challenges. They'll be overcome by the heat of the moment or the emotion in the game. Or maybe they'll simply use it because it's there... like an unsupervised child with a button. 

But not Ice Man Cam. 

Like some sort of unfeeling robot sent from the future whose only function is to correctly assess the best possible time to do the funky chicken dance (or whatever physical manifestation they decide to introduce to actually communicate the challenge) Cam will input the referees original decision into his surely cyborg brain, cross reference it with what he saw and no doubt successfully challenge the games arbitrator.

Cam won't care if it's the 1st minute of the game or the 79th if he computes that the referees have got something wrong, he'll challenge. And you can guarantee that if there’s an advantage to be gained in using the Captain’s Challenge to give his team a breather or to stop the oppositions momentum, Cam’s already figured it out. Hell, he'll probably use his challenge for the other team's benefit at times just to show how far ahead of the curve he really is. 

Call it the Captain's Challenge if you want, but if we're paying the appropriate amount of respect, and I know it'll be hard to stomach for anyone in the state of NSW, this new arrival to the NRL legal landscape needs to be known as "The Cam Smith Rule."

7 February 2020




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