BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Matthew Johns looks across the desk and in his own unique way, begins to ask a question. ‘Mate’, ‘seriously’… and all those little Johnsy mannerisms. He has future Immortal Cameron Smith on his podcast.
It is a really good episode. Most of them are. Johns, obviously, has a really laid back demeanor. You throw Smith in there and you’ve got all the ingredients you need for a free-flowing, warts and all interview.
So we wait. Come on, Matty. Get to the juicy stuff. Ask him about the salary cap cheating. Where’s the popcorn?
The chat flows along and we get to the end of 2008 and the Storm have just been trounced 40-0 by Manly in the grand final. Smith explained how tough it was to watch on from the sidelines after being suspended a week prior for an illegal tackle at Suncorp Stadium.
Johns talks about the start of the 2009 season and admits he questioned if the Storm could get back to the first Sunday in October.
We all know what happened.
The Storm were caught red-handed, rorting the cap, but not before winning the 2009 grand final.
Melbourne not only had the best players in Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk. They didn’t just have the likes of Ryan Hoffman, Dallas Johnson, Steve Turner, Adam Blair, Jeff Lima, Brett White, Will Chambers and Sika Manu on their books. Somehow, on top of the squad they already had, they were also able to bring Brett Finch in halfway through the ’09 season. Oh and they were also able to bring through and debut kids like Aiden Tolman, Kevin Procter and Dane Nielsen.
Yet they never really lost too many players.
On cue, enter C. Smith on the Matty Johns Podcast.
To quote Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne (the only true Batman), “You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!”
“We were there (at training) on the first of November in 2006 or in 2005 running up hills, doing three hill sessions a week,” Smith said on the Fox League show.
“We were there at 6.45am in the morning running laps around Optus Oval.
“We were doing the contact sessions. We were lifting weights and doing the training.
“So it’s hard to say to someone ‘that’s gone’ – we were there at ANZ Stadium in 2007, we were there in 2009.
“It’s hard to say ‘that’s gone now’.”
Someone needs to sit the great man down and explain to him what the definition of cheating is.
Manly and Parramatta ran up hills too.
So did Canterbury and Wests Tigers.
Pretty certain Brisbane, North Queensland and Newcastle did laps around footy fields at 6.45 in the morning as well.
Apparently the Sydney Roosters lifted weights.
The Warriors and Canberra did the same contact sessions.
Okay, so you guys cheated but it’s okay because you worked hard?
“We’ve still got the memories, we’ve all got the rings,” Smith added.
“I get it, people will say ‘how can you think like that?’ but that’s just the way it is.”
That’s how it is because that’s the way you perceive it.
Others don’t remember those days so fondly, Mr. Smith.
That’s just the way it is.