Melbourne Storm legend Cameron Smith has opened up on his playing future at the club where he has spent 18 years of his NRL career.
Speculation over his future was in the spotlight all season long and after leading the Storm to a 26-20 Grand Final victory, he’s revealed what is next.
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Smith released his autobiography after the 2020 season, writing about some of the biggest moments and controversies of his career.
In it he speaks about the reason he struggled for much of the season as the retirement decision loomed overhead.
“The thing that gets me is that Billy (Slater), Gal and JT all said they knew the exact moment when they could not do it any more and enough was enough. I have not woken up and thought, “Nup, I just can’t do it,” he wrote.
Smith showed he still has what it takes, with a dazzling Grand Final performance. But the 37-year-old star refuses to stand in the way and block the Storm’s young stars.
With Harry Grant and Brandon Smith waiting in the wings behind him, Smith revealed he won’t block their path and wouldn’t sign a new contract if it meant the club lost them to a rival.
Cam won’t stand in Brandon’s way.Source:Getty Images
“There’s no way I’m re-signing for another 12 months if the club is going to lose either Harry or Brandon. I don’t want to see the club struggle in the long term just so I can play one more season.,” he writes in an extract published in The Daily Telegraph.
“I was well aware of Brandon Smith’s and Harry Grant’s situations.
“And I knew that if I chose to play on in Melbourne, it would be hard for the Storm to retain all three of us, even though the club had said time and time again that it could.
“I appreciated that Brandon and Harry were building careers of their own. Brandon has established himself as the New Zealand No. 9, and Harry played 2020 with the Wests Tigers, where he had a standout season.”
It means Smith has more likely than not played his final game for the Storm after a staggering 430-game career. But he has refused to hang up the boots completely.
The superstar hooker has been linked with a move to join the Gold Coast Titans with Smith reportedly having looked at property in the area.
Titans coach Justin Holbrook spoke about adding Smith to the team earlier in the year.
“I might have a couple of days off training if I got him to the club because he is pretty good at organising the side. He’s a great player and it will be interesting to see what he ends up doing,” he said.
SMITH RESPONDS TO AFFAIR RUMOURS
Smith says his initial reaction to rumours he was having an affair with Fox Sports presenter Yvonne Sampson was to start laughing, but he admits they left his wife, Barb, shattered.
Before the 2018 season, Smith was told about rumours he was having an affair with Sampson, an allegation all parties have denied.
After being told of the harmful gossip by his manager Isaac Moses, Smith “was so taken aback he started laughing” before his attention turned to the welfare of his wife Barb and Sampson.
Cameron Smith and Yvonne Sampson rumoursSource:Supplied
“Honestly, if I was going to have an affair – which I never would – why would I do it with someone with a profile as big as hers? And in my own sport?” the excerpt reads.
“It was just cruel … rumours that were completely untrue. When I told Barb she was shattered. It floored her.
“I could handle it but I was concerned for her and Yvonne, who had been around our game for a long time and we all know how well-respected she is.
“She was just about to get married and it was just so sad. The first time I did an interview with her after it I felt for her.”
Sampson married Channel 9 reporter Chris O’Keefe in October 2018.
Sampson and Barb Smith even reportedly traded text messages to check on each other’s welfare and Sampson even floated the possibility of slamming the rumours on an episode of Fox Sports’ League Life in 2018 but Smith chose to let it pass.
— with Andrew McMurtry
The Storm Within by Cameron Smith with Andrew Webster, Allen & Unwin, RRP $49.99. Available from November 16.
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