Melbourne have announced Brandon Smith’s departure at the end of the 2022 NRL season, with the club’s CEO saying the Storm were “deeply offended” by the hooker’s controversial podcast comments.
Brandon Smith has issued a statement on social media responding to backlash from a recent podcast
The Storm hooker has reportedly left his club and the NRL unhappy with his behaviour during the interview
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo says the integrity unit is investigating the matter
The New Zealand Test player will remain with the Storm next season but is believed to be joining the Sydney Roosters beyond that.
Storm boss Justin Rodski issued a statement on Tuesday saying they had received written confirmation of Smith would leave the club when his current contract expired.
Rodski condemned Smith’s profanity-laden podcast interview, aired Sunday, in which he revealed his desire to play for the Storm’s fierce NRL rivals, the Sydney Roosters.
The Storm were left seething after the 25-year-old admitted he looked at the Roosters’ famous jumper during a meeting and said to himself: “I want to win a premiership in that jersey”.
He told YKTR Sports podcast he found the Roosters’ approach to be “mind-blowing”.
Smith was wined and dined by two Roosters powerbrokers, coach Trent Robinson and club games record-holder Mitch Aubusson.
“He pretty much persuaded me with his words,” he said of Robinson, after being invited to make pizza at his family home.
Smith, 25, took to social media earlier on Tuesday saying he didn’t mean to disrespect the Storm, used his Instagram account to apologise to anyone “hurt by my words”.
“It was never my intent to disrespect or come across as ungrateful to the club that has done so much for me and my family,” Smith wrote.
“And that goes for my coaches, members, staff and most of all my teammates.
“I speak from the heart, for better or worse sometimes.”
In his statement, Rodski said: “Recent comments made by Brandon in a podcast, and the way he expressed them, do not align with Storm’s values and the way we operate as a club.
“The statements have deeply offended current and former players, coaches, staff and board members and the club strongly rejects the comments made about the Storm culture.
“We acknowledge Brandon’s apology made on social media today and his willingness now to prepare for the 2022 season with Storm.”
In an hour-long interview, Smith also spoke about the Melbourne players cultivating a drinking culture that bonded the group.
However, he said on social media that his words were taken out of context.
“I specifically also want to address the media honing in on my comments around the Storm culture and it being framed as a “drinking culture” they have going on down there,” Smith wrote.
“Our culture is built on hard work and effort as the main priorities. These comments have been taken way out of context.”
Smith is due to return to Melbourne training on December 7 and said he was committed to the Storm for 2022.
NRL investigate Smith’s foul language during the podcast
Already set to miss round one and fined for his post-grand final antics when he was photographed partying in a hotel room with white powder present, Smith could find himself in further trouble with the NRL’s integrity unit set to review his podcast interview.
The hooker could be fined up to $10,000 for the foul language he used on the podcast.
The 56-minute interview included Smith saying the words f*** and c*** on several occasions, which is reportedly enough to warrant a breach of contract notice for bringing the game into disrepute.
The NRL CEO Andrew Abdo says the integrity unit will provide him with a report on the investigation findings “in the next 24 hours”.