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'No emotion': Alex McKinnon opens up on Cameron Smith 'hate'

Andrew Reid
·4-min read
Pictured here, Alex McKinnon and Cam Smith.
Alex McKinnon has learnt to forgive Cam Smith over the horrible accident that left him paralysed. Pic: Getty

Former Newcastle Knights star Alex McKinnon has lifted the lid on his feelings for Cameron Smith, following the infamous 2014 tackle that left him paralysed.

McKinnon fractured his C4 and C5 vertebrae as a result of a tackle, with Smith’s response to the horrible tragedy polarising rugby league fans.

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Smith became an easy target for hate after he was heard arguing with referee Gerard Sutton about the incident, once McKinnon had been stretchered off the field.

No one at that time knew the extent of McKinnon's injury, with Smith explaining to Sutton that it was a terrible accident.

"It’s unfortunate and I don’t want see that happen any time in our game," he said.

"If he doesn’t duck his head, that doesn’t happen."

Smith copped a wave of backlash after the comments were aired on 60 Minutes, with McKinnon also revealing his resentment towards the Storm veteran.

McKinnon admitted that hatred towards the Melbourne skipper had consumed him for some time, but he's learnt to move on from the devastating incident and forgive Smith.

"I have no emotion when it comes to Cameron Smith these days," McKinnon told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Alex McKinnon is seen here in a wheelchair before a Newcastle Knights match.
McKinnon was left as a quadriplegic after the horror 2014 incident. Pic: Getty

"I have forgiven everything that happened straight after the tackle, his response – I have forgiven him. It’s hard to hold on to hate. It really is. It’s wasted energy. It’s blinding.

"At its worst, it can consume you and I’ll admit it did for a while there."

The former Knight - whop now works as the club's recruitment manager - said it was even harder for his father to forgive Smith, but he too has learnt to move on.

"The hard thing was for my family, my dad, to let it go," he said.

"My dad can now observe something that Smith has done and not see it in a negative light."

Storm legend yet to decide on future

Smith - who is set to play in his eight grand final on Sunday night against the Panthers - is yet to announce a decision on whether or not he will play on.

Now 37, the former Queensland and Australia captain was fourth in this year's Dally M Medal tally despite missing four games, and was once again voted the game's best hooker.

Given his form, this figure appears to be behind Smith's torment over whether Sunday's grand final against Penrith will be his 430th and last NRL game.

Genuinely torn, Smith says not to expect a decision immediately following the grand final - win or lose - and that he will take some time before any announcement.

The Kangaroos and Queensland legend says he is not looking for a "sign" that it's game over.

Cameron Smith is seen here saluting fans after a Storm match.
Cameron Smith is still yet to make an announcement on his playing future. Pic: Getty

"After this game is finished I will do some thinking and make a decision," Smith said.

"A lot of people have mentioned about whether or not we get a good result on Sunday and that will determine things, but I can confirm that that won't make a difference whether we win or lose.

"It won't determine whether I play on next year."

If not Smith's own age, then the age of his children appears to be a determining factor in his decision.

His oldest daughter Jada is in her first year at high school while son Jasper is 10 and youngest daughter Matilda, eight.

"The sacrifices you make in your own personal life and the commitment it takes to play in the NRL, for me it's about weighing that up," Smith told the Matty Johns family podcast.

"I'm 37 and that means my family are growing as well and my children are starting to get a little bit older.

"My eldest daughter is 12 and they're starting to do a lot of things in their own life.

"It's more to do with whether I'm committed to making those sacrifices any more.

with AAP

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