Defending his reputation: Smith says 'I'm no diver'
Under-fire Penrith lock Nathan Smith has fired back at those accusing him of taking a dive to earn his side a penalty during last Saturday’s narrow semi-final loss to Canberra, insisting that diving is not in his nature and that the referees got it right.<br><br>Smith fell to the ground after colliding with Raiders forward Shaun Fensom in the lead-up to a Terry Campese try, with video referee Russell Smith eventually ruling that the 27-year-old had been denied the opportunity to make a tackle.<br><br>The decision earned the ire of fans, commentators and players alike – with Canberra coach David Furner comparing Smith to Argentinean soccer great Diego Maradona after his side held on grimly for a season-saving 24-22 win.<br><br><b><a href="http://www.nrl.com/news/news/newsarticle/tabid/10874/newsid/60203/water-cooler-did-the-refs-get-it-right/default.aspx">CLICK HERE to read our Water Cooler column regarding Furner's claims.</a></b><br><br>But Smith said criticism of his actions was wide of the mark.<br><br>“It is [frustrating] because I’m definitely not the sort of person that would take a dive,” he told NRL.com today. “Even if it’s a high tackle or something like that I would try and get straight back up and not try to milk a penalty. <br><br>“That’s just the way it turned out – but they can say what they want. It doesn’t affect how I’ll play this weekend.”<br><br>Asked for his version of events, Smith said:<br><br>“He (Fensom) got in my way. I tripped over, so I didn’t take a dive. <br><br>“I know it looked like that and even when I looked at the video it looked like I took a dive but I think if he wasn’t there I definitely would have got to him… so I thought it was a no-try.”<br><br>The Panthers finished second after the regular season but last week’s loss sees them thrown into a sudden-death encounter with in-form Sydney Roosters, who are coming off a thrilling 19-15 win over Wests Tigers in one of the most dramatic finals matches ever seen.<br><br>Making their life more difficult is the absence of injured back-rowers Trent Waterhouse and Frank Pritchard, with Smith adamant that Penrith needed to play from in front against a side boasting Dally M medalist Todd Carney and match-winning centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall.<br><br>“That was one of the problems last week – we always seem to give them a few early tries and then have to reel them in at the end,” he said. “I think this week we need to be first to score and make them chase us. But we also need to be on the ball for the full 80 minutes.<br><br>“I watched a bit of the game they played last weekend and they hung in for the entire game.<br> <br>“Obviously with us having a few players out this week it will make things tougher for us, too. <br><br>“I’ve got pretty big shoes to fill with Frank and Trent not playing but I think the guys that are going to come into the team can do the job. <br><br>“It’s going to be tough but I think we’ll be alright.”<br><br>Smith laughed off a suggestion by Roosters coach Brian Smith that it would be difficult for the Bondi club to lift themselves again following the emotional climax to their comeback win over the Tigers last Saturday night.<br><br>“Mate, I think that’s a load of crap,” he said. “Semi-final footy, it’s a totally different game and they’re going to be on a high from last week.<br><br>“They’ll come out fired up and ready to play. “I think he is just playing a few mind games – both teams will be ready to play.”