NRL great Cameron Smith has called on the Newcastle Knights to “be better” as further details emerged related to prop David Klemmer’s incident over the weekend.
Klemmer allegedly refused to leave the field and verbally abused trainer Hayden Knowles during Newcastle’s 14-point loss to the Bulldogs last Sunday.
The star forward was also dropped for this weekend’s crunch clash with the Wests Tigers, amid reports he could have his contract torn up by the Knights.
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The Daily Telegraph’s Brent Read understands that the former Blues representative has apologised to head coach Adam O’Brien, as he acknowledged that he could’ve handled things differently.
The Telegraph reported on Thursday further details of Klemmer’s spray, claiming he called Knowles a “c***” and told him to “shut the f*** up”.
The report also revealed an exchange of messages between a Knights player and senior member of staff about Klemmer, in which the member signs off with “FEC”.
“Confidential understands is an acronym for “F*** every c***. It suggests that the language was part of everyday life at the Knights and largely driven by some members of staff,” the report adds.
Weighing in on the news on Thursday morning, former Australia captain Smith couldn’t believe that a formal complaint had been submitted against Klemmer for an incident which he suggested happens regularly.
“Well it’s really strange. If words were spoken between a player and a trainer, that’s happened a thousand times before,” Smith said on The Captain’s Run on SEN on Thursday.
“I’ve seen it first hand, I think you have as well. It’s not a new thing. I’m really confused as to why this is such a huge problem.
“The way I’ve seen it dealt with and sorted out in the past is that if there’s an issue… it’s dealt with in-person after the match.
“It’s just unnecessary. Like seriously, how bad have the words been spoken between David Klemmer and this trainer, to have a formal complaint made. It’s just ridiculous. Deal with it man to man.
“Do we go running to people now to dob on each other? Like seriously, footy clubs, you’ve got to be better than that.”
Smith, who holds the record for the most NRL games played with 430, couldn’t understand why the Knights would make the complaint considering their form.
The Telegraph have reported that Newcastle players will be involved in the investigation, as they provide witness statements of what they heard.
Newcastle are currently 14th on the ladder, but they would drop back to second-last with a loss against the Wests Tigers on Sunday.
“The football is one thing, they’re not going great, they’re not going great at all,” he added.
“Even their performances at home, they’ve let their members and their fans down at home, who are extremely good supporters.
“We’re starting to come to the end of the 2022 season, they’ve had a bludger of a year, they’re trying to get their season done as best they can with the remaining games.
“Now their starting prop, one of their enforcers, he’s been standing down. They’ve got several players now being pulled in now to be part of this investigation, and give their account of events.”
Smith played a lot of rugby league against and with Klemmer, with the pair helping the Kangaroos to a tense 6-0 win in the World Cup final against England in 2017.
The former Melbourne Storm hooker described Klemmer as “very respectful”, and felt that he would’ve worked through the situation alongside the club if given a chance.
“I’ve had a little bit to do with David Klemmer, like I’ve played many, many times against him, and look he is one of the most competitive and passionate blokes that I’ve played against in my career. He loves footy, he loves playing for the teams that he represents.
“But once the games over, he’s a very, very respectful man. He’ll deal with those situations the way he needs to deal with them respectfully. I don’t know why they’ve gone down this path.”
The Parramatta Eels reported attempted to sign Klemmer on a loan deal for the rest of the 2022 season, but the move was blocked by the Knights.
Klemmer is currently on a deal worth up to $900,000 at Newcastle until the end of the next season, but a number of teams could be interested in acquiring his services if he becomes available.