Storm profits in NRL from Smith's decision

Scott Bailey

Melbourne are only just beginning to see the benefits of Cameron Smith's representative retirement after he guided them through the State of Origin period undefeated for the first time since 2011.

Smith has been available for every game of this year's representative period for the first time in his 16-year career, after his shock decision to walk away from Queensland and Australia

And while the decision has been the Maroons' loss, there's no question it has been Melbourne's gain.

In that time they've gone from sixth to fighting for a top-two spot, with Smith helping guide them to a third one-point win in the period over Manly on Saturday.

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy lauded Smith's work ethic and leadership at training throughout the effected period following Saturday night's win.

But it's what lays ahead with Smith feeling fresher than usual that should leave Storm fans most excited, as they aim to become the first team to defend their title in a unified competition in 25 years.

"That was one of the many reasons to finish up," Smith said.

"It was a really challenging period for me every time I played Origin to come out and get through that six or eight weeks, then it's an ongoing ground to finish the year.

"Trying to make up for those days you miss at training and the fatigue factor coming out of that.

"Personally I'm in a really good spot and feel good, so touch wood it stays the same way."

Smith's decision has been advantageous to the Storm in several ways.

Aside from the guidance he's given around the club at training, Smith's availability has allowed Bellamy to rest Origin players around him, with Billy Slater, Cameron Munster, Will Chambers, Josh Addo-Carr and Felise Kaufusi all set to be better placed for the run home after being rested against Manly.

In turn, Smith has spent time he previously never had on the field with Melbourne's exciting up-and-coming talent, players who usually only ran out when he was in Origin camp.

"I'm really happy over this period I've been able to give back to the team," Smith said.

"Whereas over the best part of 15 years and the last couple I haven't been able to give too much, and I'm not really around training for the best part of eight weeks,

"That was more of a hindrance to the club than anything.

"They (the youngsters) are going to be the future of our club so the faster they can get up to speed the better our club is going to be."

Meanwhile Smith also denied there were any issues between he, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.

"I've got no issue with those guys, no issue at all.

"Billy's addressed it last week I've been told, so that's where I'm at."