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Smith's Record Game Marred By Controversy

Tonight Cameron Smith will line up for a record 36th NRL State of Origin match, matched by only Darren Lockyer in overall games played. 

Yet the focus is far from his incredible on field record. 

Instead it has been marred by criticism of an incident that happened 12 months ago. 

There is no denying what happened to Alex McKinnon on that fateful day was an absolute tragedy and his recovery and mental well-being throughout his rehabilitation has been front of mind for all in the NRL community. 

But emotions and reputations are still being dragged through the mud on the back of a 60 Minutes exclusive aired by Channel 9 in the week before the Origin decider - largely due to Cameron Smith being refused an initial right of reply. 

READ: Cameron Smith Boycotts Channel Nine Origin Interviews After 60 Minutes Special

The media outlet have since tried to backpedal, offering him a chance to respond this Sunday but Smith has refused on principle.

The interview polarized opinions but the main fallout could still be in front of them with Smith expected to boycott media commitments from Channel 9. 

As captain of the Queensland Origin side, Smith would normally hold a press conference in the lead up to the decider. 

Whether he will be involved in any post match press conference if Queensland win is less clear.

Origin Coach Mal Meninga has thrown his support behind Smith, but refuses to add to the debate on a personal level. 

"I have a private opinion but I don't want to air that publicly," he said.

"But what everyone has been saying I concur with - Cameron is a decent human being.

"He is a respected member of the rugby league fraternity and deserves some respect.

"But you can't win by making any kind of comment."

On the total games record, Meninga said Smith's place in Origin history is among an elite group of athletes. 

"He's right up there in the Origin legacy," he said.

"Thirty-six games. That is 12 years of playing at this level - it is extraordinary."

He insists that the media speculation and white noise has not impacted the Queensland side's preparations for the decider. 

"It hasn't impacted on the way we have prepared," he said.

"You are referring obviously to what was portrayed on Sunday night.

"It's a no win situation. We have to make sure we put that behind us and move forward.

"We have come to Brisbane as a team and are prepared to do whatever it takes to be successful on Wednesday night." 

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