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Referee spills the beans on ‘clever’ player

Matt Cecchin is set to referee his final NRL game this weekend before retiring.

But, the 48-year-old – who has refereed over 350 NRL matches – has opened up about the one player that he believes was the ‘most intelligent’ he has ever come across on the field – no one other than Cameron Smith.

A Melbourne legend, Smith was also in the limelight for his ability to seemingly sway decision in his favour and now Cecchin has explained just how he could do that.

“He (Smith) is certainly one of the most intelligent players I’ve ever refereed,” Cecchin told SEN.

“The thing with Cameron – he did get a lot of airtime with referees – but he did it in a way that he’d come and talk to you on the field and you’d feel like pausing the game, ordering a couple of coffees or a couple of beers to have a chat about it.”

Cecchin said Smith’s knowledge of the sport was second to none and the hooker’s calm manner would often leave the official thinking twice about the decision just given.

“He was really engaging, not in a nasty, ‘You stuffed that up’ way, but he would say, ‘Cech, I agree with that penalty, but can you keep an eye on this guy? He’s always seems to get caught in there and we’re not really locking it in’,” Cecchin said.

“Your mind starts to go, ‘Maybe he’s right?’, he was very, very, engaging and very clever with how he did things.

“Off the field, you’d speak to him about the game, he just knew it in such complexity, it was incredible.”

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