Cameron Smith says Alex McKinnon’s controversial interview with 60 Minutes helped inspire Queensland to demolish New South Wales in last year’s State of Origin decider.
McKinnon was left a quadriplegic in March 2014 as a result of a tackle in an NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and Smith’s Melbourne Storm.
The former Knights forward criticised Smith in a 60 Minutes interview for comments the Queenslander made on field, and also for an apparent lack of contact since the incident.
Smith was not granted a right of reply in the Channel Nine interview and had remained silent for a long period.
But he has now told the Courier Mail that the furore surrounding the interview spurred him and his Maroons team-mates on to destroy NSW in the final match of the 2015 Origin series.
“I had no control about anyone’s opinions after the program had aired and in a way that steeled us a lot more for that match (Origin III),” Smith said of the 52-6 win at Lang Park.
“I don’t like to dwell on negative stuff, but it was tough. I didn’t watch the 60 Minutes program because I didn’t feel I needed to get caught up in it. I heard a lot about it from my family and friends and a couple of boys watched it too, but some chose not to watch it.
“My focus was just on the team and I spoke to the boys about that. I wanted to reassure them I was OK with whatever was said about me.
“The boys were so focused in what we wanted to do in that game. I’ll be honest, it didn’t have an effect on me leading into the game and it didn’t really with the boys as you could see with that result in the way we played.
“If any one of us had any effect from that show, we did a pretty good job in not letting it surface.”
The Maroons romped home in a 52-6 win in last year’s State of Origin decider. (AAP: Glenn Hunt)
Smith said he knew what went down on the field when McKinnon was injured, saying he was happy with how he conducted himself.
“From the earliest days in my career, I have come to the realisation that not everyone is going to have a good opinion of you. Not everyone is going to like you.
“I can’t control that so anything I can’t control I don’t concern myself with. I don’t let it upset me. I feel lucky to have that type of personality, because some people can’t let those things go.
“I had to deal with things after the game. But my job that night (in the decider) was for the Queensland team, the jersey and the people of Queensland.”