Cameron Smith suspended

Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith was tonight handed a two match suspension following last Monday's grade one contrary conduct charge by the Match Review Committee. Smith will take no further part in the 2008 National Rugby League finals series.

The suspension means Melbourne will be without their leader and playmaker, key defender and goal kicker as they attempt to pursue a third consecutive grand final berth.

Smith pleaded not guilty to making unnecessary contact with the neck of Brisbane Bronco's Sam Thaiday last weekend. QC Geoff Bellew defended Smith but their appeal was denied at a hearing in Sydney. The judiciary panel consisting of Darrell Williams, Darren Britt and Royce Ayliffe affirmed the match review committee's initial ruling.

In saying that he got a fair hearing, Smith admitted that he had a grip on Thaiday's head but argued the tackle happened too quickly for him to re-adjust.

With 93 carryover points from a similar charge earlier this season, Smith will miss the next two matches including Friday's elimination preliminary final against the Sharks and the grand final should Melbourne qualify.

Storm backrower Jeremy Smith will also be sidelined this weekend after pleading guilty and accepting a one-game ban for his part in the same tackle. Storm forward Ryan Hoffman has been ruled out with injury.