'Strangest story': Cameron Smith retirement saga takes 'sad' turn

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Cameron Smith, pictured here in action for the Melbourne Storm in the 2020 NRL grand final.
Cameron Smith in action for the Melbourne Storm in the 2020 NRL grand final. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The chances of Cameron Smith playing on in the NRL look slim-to-none as the NRL champion settles into his new life on the Gold Coast.

On Thursday, Smith was missing from the NRL season launch for the first time in years, with the Immortal-in-waiting still yet to make an official call on his future.

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With season's kick off just two days away, it now appears almost certain that Smith won't play again.

But the saga took a "sad" turn on Tuesday when veteran NRL commentator Andrew Voss revealed some of Smith's friends and former teammates haven't been able to get in touch with him.

“I declare it one of the strangest stories I’ve come across in all my time watching rugby league,” Voss said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.

“Some of his closest friends that I’ve spoken to, friends who played with him for years, haven’t been able to speak to Cameron. They leave messages - no reply. What’s all that about?

“The Storm can’t get any replies. To be honest, bizarre has become a bit sad.

“If the playing career is all over, and that’s the way it appears, it is the strangest exit in the history of sport.”

Smith is set to return to Melbourne ahead of the Storm's opening round clash with South Sydney.

The 37-year-old will reportedly be in attendance for the unveiling of a bronze statue at AAMI Park of him and Billy Slater.

But according to Voss, Smith won't be hanging around to watch his former team's match, and won't address his ex-teammates.

“Cameron will be in Melbourne tomorrow for the unveiling of a statue, a tremendous honour for he and Billy Slater,” Voss said. 

“But, we’re told he won’t be seeing, I guess we’ll call them his former teammates, in Melbourne, nor will he stick around for the opening game of the season on Thursday night.

“He apparently has a prior commitment, so the club hasn’t been able to plan anything of the tribute kind.”

Cameron Smith, pictured here before the 2020 grand final between the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm.
Cameron Smith waves before the 2020 grand final between the Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Cameron Munster expects Smith to play on

At age 37 and without a pre-season under his belt, Cameron Munster still has no doubt the former Kangaroos skipper has the ability to play on.

The Melbourne Storm five-eighth said he expects Smith to pop up at Gold Coast or Brisbane.

"I don't think he's done," Munster said this week. 

"I think he's still got a lot to give to the game, whatever team decides to sign him.

"At 37, it's scary to say, but he's still one of the best hookers in the game.

"He's not as fast as Damien Cook or an Api Koroisau, but he still has that aura and can play the game to his speed."

Brandon Smith will start at No.9 for the Storm in the NRL season-opener on Thursday night.

It's a position he's long coveted, even requesting a release from his contract for the 2022 season to ensure he can be a starting hooker.

Smith and Harry Grant were in a tight tussle until the latter's knee injury, which has ruled him out for the first three games.

with AAP

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