Storm stunned by Phil Walsh tragedy
Melbourne and Queensland captain Cameron Smith has expressed his shock and sadness over the alleged murder of Adelaide Crows AFL coach Phil Walsh in what has been a tragic week for the Storm.
Smith was one of a strong Storm contingent that attended the funeral of Sunshine Coast footballer James Ackerman on Tuesday and then woke on Friday morning in Maroons camp to learn of the shock death of Walsh.
Walsh had spent time with the leadership team at the Storm ahead of his first year as head coach at the Crows this year, having first been in contact with Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy and football manager Frank Ponissi when an assistant coach at Port Adelaide AFL club.
Walsh died at his home in Somerton Park in the early hours of Friday following an alleged domestic dispute, with Smith describing him as an "impressive guy".
"It was a shock, I couldn't believe it when I saw the headline on the news," Smith said.
"From the Melbourne Storm and everyone in rugby league and people across Australia we send our condolences firstly to his family, the Crows and the AFL community.
"He was at the Storm to pick our brains because he had a younger leadership group. He had a new captain in Taylor Walker and those guys just came over to talk to us and to ask a bit about how we go about things on the training paddock, how we handle our squad and some values that we have as leaders.
"He was a pretty impressive guy and you could see he was doing some wonderful things with that club as a first-year coach there."
Smith, Bellamy, CEO Dave Donaghy, development coach Anthony Seibold, Queensland coaching director Matt Adamson and a number of the Storm's players attended the funeral of Ackerman on Tuesday.
Just 25 years of age, Ackerman passed away on June 22 after sustaining critical head injuries playing for Storm feeder club, the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Ackerman is survived by a wife and two young children and Smith paid tribute to the Ackerman family for their strength in such a tragic time.
"I'm captain of the Australian Rugby League team so I was there representing the entire rugby league community as well as the Sunshine Coast Falcons being a feeder club of the Melbourne Storm," said Smith.
"It was a beautiful service, they did a very good job but also very sad at the same time.
"I've got three young children of my own so I couldn't even imagine what the family's going through at the moment.
"They've been very strong and so courageous throughout the last couple of weeks with the support of the Sunshine Coast Falcons club and the Melbourne Storm as well."