Storm defend Smith and NRL tackle tactics

Storm captain Cameron Smith has been criticised for this tackle on Canberra's Bailey Simonsson.
Storm captain Cameron Smith has been criticised for this tackle on Canberra's Bailey Simonsson.

Melbourne assistant coach Ryan Hinchcliffe has rubbished claims the Storm are deliberately employing the "wingnut" tackle on opponents after their skipper Cameron Smith was warned by the NRL for his actions.

Smith was officially put on notice by the NRL after images emerged of him appearing to massage the ear of Canberra's Bailey Simonsson during Saturday's clash in Melbourne.

He was penalised by referee Ben Cummins, who told him it was for "rubbish on the face".

The Storm have faced a recent barrage of criticism for their tackling technique and wrestling tactics with South Sydney and Canberra clubs most vocal.

Hinchcliffe said Smith never targeted Simonsson's ear and the images didn't tell the full story.

"You will see that he's actually got a hold of his jersey in that tackle," Hinchcliffe said.

"He's trying to hold him on the ground and, yes his hand has ended up around his face but you have a look across all the games on the weekend and I'm sure you could find 20 or 30 or 40 of those types of tackles when hands end up around that area.

"I don't think he was (massaging his ear), he was just trying to do his best to slow down that tackle."

Having played alongside Smith at Melbourne for seven seasons, Hinchcliffe didn't believe the legacy of the game's record-holder was in any danger of being tainted by such acts.

"Cameron Smith is one of the most honest and hard-working players I've ever seen and he's done it for 20 years so I don't think it will do anything to his legacy at all," Hinchcliffe said.

"He's extremely smart and at the end of the day we play a game and he plays it better than anyone."

The Storm host Gold Coast on Sunday looking to bounce back from their 22-18 loss to the Raiders after holding an 18-0 lead.

Hinchcliffe said improving their poor completion rate was the main point to come out of their review.

He said attacks on the competition leaders didn't affect the group and they wouldn't be changing their defence.

"We're really confident with what we do down here," the former hooker said.

"Obviously there's been a fair bit of scrutiny outside but we know within our four walls that we don't train or practice anything illegal so we don't have anything to worry about."

Australian Associated Press