Brandon Smith has missed out on more than just game time after receiving a three-week suspension, with the Storm star revealing he was banned from training with his teammates.
Smith had been handed the suspension after he called Adam Gee a “cheating bastard” during the Storm’s shock loss to the Sharks last month.
The 26-year-old was immediately sent for 10 minutes in the bin, and later pled guilty to the charge of contrary conduct.
But the punishment from the NRL wasn’t the end of it for the New Zealand Test rake, who has had to train away from the main squad since.
The unusual banishment has been seen Smith train with the fitness coach for the entirety of the ban.
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“No, that’s not the norm, that’s quite special,” Smith said on Tuesday.
“I think it was just a sort of just getting punished for not putting the team first.
“It’s been pretty hard and a bit of a grind.
“Waking up early and training by yourself, it gets pretty boring.
“But just being able to hang out with the boys now makes me a lot more grateful for being in a team sport.”
Smith believes that the club were trying to send him a message by banning him from training for those three weeks.
After being isolated from the squad for so long, the Kiwi international reflected on what the time away from the main squad had taught him.
“Just making you feel guilty for your actions by taking away what you love most,” he said.
“And for me with footy that’s playing with my mates and my friends and enjoying it.
“They kind of took that away from me and it sucks.
“I got to hang out with the fitness coach and he’s not that much fun either.”
Smith is available to return for Melbourne in their crucial Friday night clash with the Gold Coast Titans at AAMI Park.
Melbourne beat the Warriors in Auckland last Friday, and ended a four-match winless streak to boast.
The Storm are sitting inside the top four after the win, but are equal on points with both the Broncos and sixth-placed Eels.
“It’s been a weird old year for all of us, we’ve got heaps of injuries.
“It’s no surprise it’s going to be a little bit of a hard one this year.
“We’ve lost Welchy (Christian Welch), Reimis (Smith), George (Jennings) and Paps (Ryan Papenhuyzen) for the season and that’s four of our best 13.
“We’ve got numerous other injuries coming through and they are excuses, but I’m willing to make those excuses now as we’ve had like 16 pretty bad injuries this year and we’ve only got like a 26-man squad.
“We’re still fourth, which is the crazy thing that we’ve been able to keep ourselves in the fight.”