Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy admits he struggled to understand his captain Cameron Smith's decision to end his representative career.
Smith announced this week that he'd no longer be available to lead Queensland's State of Origin team or the Kangaroos, citing the physical and mental toll and his desire to spend more time with his family.
Bellamy said he while it was great news for the Storm that they would have their captain to steer the ship through the tricky Origin period when other stars were missing, he was still surprised Smith wanted to turn his back on playing at the pinnacle.
"Putting the Storm hat on it's a great decision for us," Bellamy said.
"But for me, as a guy who played the game but never played Origin and would have loved to, it's hard to believe a guy would knock back playing Origin.
"It was obviously the right decision for Cameron and from what I could see there was a weight lifted."
At the announcement this week Smith said he hoped the call on his future would extend his NRL career and Bellamy said he thought it would.
The 34-year-old, already the most capped NRL player of all time, is off contract at the end of this season.
"I can't see why, with the way he's going at the moment, if he's still mentally keen to do the work he will need to do, that he can't go on for another two or three years," Bellamy said.
"It's that mental attitude, that will be the thing for him, but at the moment he's usually the last to leave training and he's still got that hunger and belief he can still get better."
Smith said the thought of representative retirement was sown last year when he was unable to back up to play for the Storm following the mid-week Origin match.
Bellamy said he didn't get a sense that Smith was contemplating quitting representative football but just that he was finding it tougher.
"I realised then that we would have to look after him a bit more during Origin but I didn't really get an inkling that he would give up Origin."