Cameron Smith responds amid claims of 'Las Vegas curse' lingering around NRL teams

Manly, South Sydney, Brisbane and the Roosters have all failed to hit their straps in 2024.

They say you never leave Las Vegas the same person as you arrived. Sin City takes something from every visitor – usually your money first, followed by your soul, then your sanity.

The question now being asked: Did it suck something from the four NRL clubs that kick-started rugby league's assault on America? Did they leave something behind in Vegas?

Halfway through the 2024 season, Vegas participants Manly, South Sydney, Brisbane and the Roosters either sit outside the eight or are clinging onto spots just inside it. The Rabbitohs – tipped by many to win the premiership – are suffering the biggest Vegas hangover.

Latrell Mitchell, Reece Walsh and Cameron Smith.
Cameron Smith (R) doesn't think the Rabbitohs, Broncos, Sea Eagles or Roosters have been hampered by playing in Las Vegas. Image: Getty

They lost to the Sea Eagles in the first premiership match played on American soil and have been playing catch-up ever since. They are in 16th position after winning just three games all season. Jason Demetriou is gone as coach and the play-offs look a forlorn hope.

Manly's win over Souths was followed up by a rousing second round win over the Roosters and talk of a return to finals football was rife on the northern beaches. Since then, the Sea Eagles have struggled for consistency and are currently three spots outside the eight.

Manly and South Sydney in Las Vegas in the first round of the NRL season.
Manly and South Sydney have both struggled in 2024. Image: Getty

The Roosters, who beat Brisbane in Vegas, are sixth and travelling okay, although their roster suggests they should be higher. And the Broncos are clinging onto eighth on for-and-against but appear a shadow of the side that almost snatched the 2023 premiership.


So, as the NRL prepares to announce the four clubs to kick-off next year's premiership in the States, is there a Vegas curse? Manly CEO Tony Mestrov told Yahoo Sport Australia: "From our point of view, Vegas was a fantastic experience on and off the field and a wonderful opportunity for our club and the game.

"But it probably has had an impact in that we've had three games in Queensland and one in New Zealand in the rounds after Vegas. All that travel can impact performance and I think we've seen signs of that. There's no doubt we'd like to be higher on the table, but we've competed in every single game and there is still a long way to go in this competition."

But Immortal-in-waiting Cameron Smith doesn’t believe Vegas took too much out of the teams. "I wouldn't say that it's had a negative effect on anyone," he told SEN radio. "Certain things have happened throughout the year where they (the four clubs) haven't handled it all that well and haven’t played their best football.

"You can take that US trip out of it. They're professionals, they're used to the travel, they were over there plenty of time before the game and then had a week off. I wouldn't say it's had a lingering effect at all." The NRL is expected to announce Cronulla, Canberra, the Warriors and Penrith as the four clubs to open the 2025 season in Vegas.