Cameron Smith has revealed his decision to call it quits before the 2021 season was because he didn't want to stunt the growth of Melbourne's emerging hookers.
Smith called time on his career just days before the NRL premiership was set to begin in 2021.
STATE OF ORIGIN: Predicting the QLD team for Game I
STATE OF ORIGIN 2021: Predicted NSW team for Game I
'KNOWS A FAIR BIT': Cam Smith's stunning return to Storm
Smith called time on his career, after 19 years and 430 matches, on a high after winning the NRL Premiership last season against the Penrith Panthers.
But the future NRL Immortal has opened up on what persuaded him to hang up the boots just days out from the season.
And it was two young stars that helped ease him into retirement.
“I didn’t want to be a hindrance in Melbourne,” Smith told SEN's Pat and Heals.
“What I mean by that is, we got two young guys, fantastic dummy-halves down there right now in Brandon Smith and Harry Grant.
I spoke with (Melbourne coach) Craig (Bellamy) last year — this is before the season had finished — and I spoke to him about my concern about if I was to play on in 2021, being in Melbourne and holding those guys back, and potentially one of them leaving.
“The club to lose one of those outstanding players would have been the wrong thing to do.”
Smith said his only option was to play for Brisbane or the Gold Coast but decided to call time on his storied career.
Smith makes Storm coaching appearance
Despite calling it quits, Smith was seen in the Storm's coaching box with coach Craig Bellamy on the weekend.
It was the first time Smith has been seen at a Storm game since announcing his retirement before the opening round of the 2021 season.
Bellamy addressed Smith's cameo after the game, revealing he'd used the 430-game champion for advice.
“I expected to get a bit advice and he spoke up a couple of times,” Bellamy said.
“I love his opinions. Well, I don’t love his opinions. I treasure them.
"Sometimes it is not what I think, but for a guy that has played 400 games and 100 rep games he knows a fair bit about the game.
“He was quite handy actually. I asked him a couple of questions and a couple of the coaches did as well.
"I’d like him to be in there every week but that is probably not going to happen.”
Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.