Cam Smith's future will be the perfect grand final smokescreen for Storm
Subscribe
Advertisement

Cam Smith's future will be the perfect grand final smokescreen for Storm

Loading

Before Melbourne's preliminary final against Canberra, Craig Bellamy addressed questions about Cameron Smith's future. His answers were the same as they had been all season: he has no idea about the movements of his decorated skipper beyond the end of this season.

After the game on Friday, Bellamy was questioned again. So was Smith, who gave a mini-farewell lap when he left the field with five minutes to play, then was chaired off the field amid popping champagne and confetti in what looked suspiciously like a retirement party – although he later assured everyone it was no such thing.

Smith will do some pre-grand final media next week and get asked again. Bellamy will deal with the same enquiries. When the match begins, it's very likely nobody will be any the wiser, possibly not even Smith.

Amid all of the uncertainty is one solid fact: the matter will dominate much of the pre-game hype, and Melbourne will love every minute of it. The smokescreen will increase in size during the week as Smith's many critics fan the flames.

Advertisement

There are multiple scenarios at play. Smith may have already decided what he will do next and even told his teammates on Friday night before being hoisted onto the shoulders of Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane. If that was the case, they all did a good job of remembering their lines after the match. Christian Welch and Josh Addo-Carr said they had no idea what was happening. Welch thought he might have already retired and he'd missed the official communication.

Addo-Carr said he wouldn't be surprised if Smith went around again. And again.

Cameron Smith waves to the crowd after being replaced with five minutes to go.

Cameron Smith waves to the crowd after being replaced with five minutes to go.Credit:Getty

"I’m not too sure ... we wanted to put him on our shoulders and show him how good of a game he played," Addo-Carr said with a laugh. "He hasn’t said too much to the boys. I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays on for another two years."

Bellamy and Smith did a superb job at the official post-game press conference, in which Bellamy said it was all his idea and thought it might be nice for Smith to have a send-off photo for posterity, should it indeed have been his final match at Suncorp Stadium, where he has steered the Maroons to victory on so many occasions.

"I just thought it would be a good idea in case it is [Smith’s last game], but who knows," Bellamy said. "I just think it would be a nice photo if he does decide in January to pull the pin or whatever.

"That is what he has done in Origin. He waited two weeks and poor old Kevvie [Walters, former Queensland coach] had a heart attack. I just thought it was the right thing to do in case it is his last game at Suncorp. He's had obviously a lot of wonderful memories here."

Cameron Smith is chaired from the field at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night. But was it for the last time?

Cameron Smith is chaired from the field at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night. But was it for the last time?Credit:NRL Photos

Smith, to his credit, hasn't become outwardly irritated at the relentless interrogations about his future, mostly because he knows he could put an end to it all by simply making a decision, or at least making it public.

He has sworn black and purple that he was not at that point and won't be at that point by the time the whistle blows next Sunday.

"I can't tell you," he said on Friday. "I don't know. All I'm worried about this year is trying to play well and just enjoy watching the young fellas grow as footballers and grow as men.

"I've been very fortunate in my career to be involved in some really big games with the Storm and lucky enough to win some premierships.

"There are a lot of guys starting out their career that haven't had that opportunity yet and I'm just enjoying their success at the moment and sharing their journey. I haven't thought past that."

Much of the angst directed at Smith comes from the position in which he has put the Storm in terms of recruitment. Whether he stays or goes will have a direct impact on who graduates to the No.9 jersey, with Harry Grant one of those waiting in the wings.

Bellamy said they had scratched out a path for both scenarios and it would be a waste of energy in grand final week to worry about it any further.

Loading

"I have no idea [what Smith will do], " Bellamy said. "Like him, I just stopped thinking about it about two months ago. I don't waste any energy thinking about what he's going to do because I said I wasn't going to annoy him.

"I reckon he's earned the right to decide when that's going to happen. We have sort of planned if he goes next year. But if he doesn't, it's the same. We'll work in with that.

"I'm not going to annoy him. I'm not going to waste my energy thinking about it, because he'd probably just do the opposite that I thought anyway just to piss me off. I'll let him make that decision whenever he feels free.​"

Bellamy knows better than anyone that grand finals are difficult to reach, let alone win. He and Smith will be true to their word when they say the latter's future won't stand in their way of adding to the Storm's astounding record of modern NRL domination.

Sport newsletter

Sports news, results and expert commentary delivered straight to your inbox each weekday. Sign up here.