Cam Smith confesses: 'It was out of character'
It was the most absorbing battle of a most absorbing battle not only for the quality of players involved but for the close bond that they share.
Online golf buddies during the week Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston were opposing captains on Saturday night with Smith's field goal 10 minutes from full-time earning his side a gripping one-point win over JT's Cowboys.
Ever the architects of their team's fortunes, Smith and Thurston both played significant roles in the majority of the tries that were scored but it was Smith's close attention to Thurston's kicking game that was most evident.
Whenever Thurston put a kick down field it was Smith following through to make a tackle a split second after the ball had left his boot but unlike other weeks, this time he hung around to help his "great mate" to his feet.
"First time for everything," quipped Storm coach Craig Bellamy in the post-match press conference and Smith himself admitted that such an act of sportsmanship was not a regular part of his routine.
"I was hoping you weren't going to bring that up," Smith said sheepishly.
"Each time I did that I thought, 'I hope Craig didn't see that. He's going to chip me for it.'
"He picked up a kicking tee for me after a couple of times that I picked him up off the ground so he paid me back there.
"I guess that's a bit of a respect thing but to be honest to answer that question, no I don't do that every time."
Given the Storm had a chance to make a significant statement against the defending premiers Smith said it was imperative that he made Thurston's night as uncomfortable as possible.
When Thurston set himself for a shot at field goal late in the game it was Smith who shot out of the defensive line to successfully quell any attempt but said that it was part of his game he took pride in each and every week.
"He's not a good mate, he's a great mate. We've been through a lot in our football careers together and he's a wonderful player, we all know that," said Smith, who joined the top five goalkickers in premiership history with his three goals against the Cowboys.
"He's a key to the Cowboys performances. I paid a bit of attention to him and he commands that respect from opposition players but that's just my role in the side.
"I do it every week, probably a little bit more magnified tonight because of the magnitude of the game and obviously the crowd but I try to do that every week for the team.
"It's something that doesn't go down in any stat column but we put a fairly high emphasis on that sort of play, to try and help out our back three."