This is the riddle that keeps on giving. As the referee blew time on a dominant Melbourne Storm preliminary final victory over Canberra at Suncorp Stadium, all eyes turned to the 37-year-old Cameron Smith.
Was this his last game at Suncorp Stadium?
It could explain the symbolic send-off… the guard of honour?
Or maybe his Storm teammates understood everything he has done at Lang Park.
Perhaps, the Storm and coach Craig Bellamy really don’t know what he is going to do and Cameron Smith deserves a mighty farewell in a Storm jersey at Suncorp.
In the press conference after the club’s 30-10 win which sent them through to yet another decider, Smith was bombarded from the first question.
Either way… whether Smith plays on at Melbourne or leaves for another club … being chaired off at Suncorp in a Melbourne strip is an important photo opportunity.
Smith blamed it on Bellamy.
Asked by the packed scrum inside Suncorp Stadium whether this was his last match at Suncorp, sucking on an ice block, Smith told it straight.
“I can’t tell ya that. I don’t know.”
He really meant it.
At the height of the 2010 salary cap dramas, front office would request players down on the training field to come up for one-on-ones.
All the players, Kangaroos or Kiwis, Blues or Maroons, would be their quicker than a hiccup.
The yarn goes, when you request Cameron Smith, you’re on Cameron Smith time.
Sometimes the CEO or the coach or the lawyers could be sitting there for fifteen or twenty minutes.
‘Don’t worry… he’ll be here soon’.
You’re retired a long time.
Nobody is going to rush Cameron Smith.
Some think the guard of honour at Suncorp was a clue that Smith is retiring.
Then Bellamy was asked if he thought Smith would retire.
“I’ve got no idea,” he said.
“I gave up three months ago.”
Earlier, he had a crack about Smith waiting until January to make a decision on a new contract that went forever – many years ago.
Remember, Bellamy went through Billy Slater’s retirement.
He sat through the Cooper Cronk circus and then had to watch his halfback run off to Sydney and win titles at the Roosters.
Bellamy loves Smith but he’s seen it all before.
Has Smith told his coach this is his final season?
Does Bellamy respect him enough that whatever he does next year, including going to another team for a huge pay packet, Smith should get what he deserves?