Cameron Smith has always loved the speculation about his future but now is the time to take the money and leave MelbourneAugust 19, 2020
BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Why hasn’t the legendary Cameron Smith made a decision on his future? It is simple. Smith has always enjoyed watching the circus around his contracts and what he was or wasn’t doing.
The longer this thing goes on, the more chance there is Smith will not be at the Melbourne Storm in 2021.
He will either retire, which he may have already decided and has only told close family and his coach, or he goes on again at either the Brisbane Broncos or the Gold Coast Titans.
Storm boss Craig Bellamy told the media he wants Smith at the club for the rest of his life.
That says Bellamy doesn’t know.
For the first time in Smith’s illustrious career, he isn’t the first priority for Melbourne. As cutthroat as it is, the Storm won’t hurt too much if they lose the great man.
Just like the club brutally cut Richie Swain back in 2002 for Smith – the same fate may await Smith if he doesn’t move along for one last massive pay check at a rival organisation.
Smith won’t get the same coin at the Storm if he stays.
Melbourne are desperate to get Harry Grant back at the club.
While the loan deal to Wests Tigers certainly has improved the joint-venture, the Storm win in the long run. When Grant gets back to the Storm, he should already be a Queensland State of Origin representative.
In 2009, after the birth of his first child, Smith declared he may return to Queensland and take up a deal with the Broncos. The Storm freaked and gave Smith everything he wanted.
He stayed in ‘Bleak City’.
In October of 2013, with Smith open to negotiate with rival sides from November of that year, he said he was going to take his time despite strong word he was headed to the Broncos again.
“I’m the type of person that I don’t want to drag things on and drag clubs through any negotiation deals.” Smith said at the time.
He finally re-signed with the Storm in March of 2014.
Contract negotiations again stalled in 2018 when Smith shocked the Storm by wanting a two-year deal instead of a final swansong in 2019.
It dragged on again.
At the same time, word was Kiwi cult hero Brandon Smith was the heir apparent.
He’s been waiting ever since and it looks like he’ll be superseded by Grant which may force Brandon from the club in a search to start at hooker on a weekly basis.
Then, despite being contracted for 2020, Smith surprised everybody again by confirming publicly in an interview with Channel Nine’s Billy Slater he was considering retirement straight after Melbourne’s 2019 preliminary final loss to the Sydney Roosters.
It stunned the Storm.
After all, they said goodbye to Brodie Croft, Will Chambers and others to keep Smith at AAMI Park.
He stayed on again.
The difference now is Melbourne don’t necessarily need to keep Cameron Smith.
And Smith, as smart as he is, would understand that.
In July, Smith said he would make a decision on his future three weeks from that comment.
It never came.
“With all due respect, if Cameron’s decision was having an impact on the team, we seemed to be going okay on the field,” Coach Bellamy said on August 1.
“If Cameron said he was giving himself three weeks to make a decision three weeks ago, that was Cameron. It certainly didn’t come from the club.
“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime player, and what he has done for us as a club – a club in an AFL hot spot – he can make his decision whenever he’s ready. He deserves that.
“We’ve planned our cap for two scenarios based on whether he’s here or not. Whatever way he goes [and] we’ll be prepared.”
A monster deal to see out his career at another club doesn’t sound so silly.
For Cameron Smith or the Melbourne Storm.
But if history is anything to go by, this may play out for just a little while longer.