Cameron Smith’s next move is going to create a seismic shift in rugby league, especially if he links with the Broncos or Titans.
The 37-year-old future Immortal has four options as I see it for 2021.
He could play on with the Storm, retire and transition into an off-field role as a coach or join one of the two south-east Queensland based teams in a playing or coaching capacity.
I am absolutely certain Smith could become a coach immediately if he wanted, more likely as an assistant to start. He is basically an on-field coach now.
Straight up I would predict if he did join another club it would be the Titans.
Imagine him back in business with Mal Meninga after what they achieved together for the Maroons.
Smith right now feels good physically and between the ears but I understand the dilemma he's facing.
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If he committed right now to play next year that will impact the roster management of the club he plays with, whether that be the Storm or somewhere else.
He doesn’t want to make the commitment now and then feel at the end of the year, possibly after another premiership win, that he’s had enough.
In his heart he probably wants to be a one-club player but is already well aware if he stays at the Storm then that will affect their ability to keep Harry Grant and possibly Brandon Smith. He is between a rock and a hard place on that one.
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He has been a selfless player and person throughout his career and I am sure this is difficult for him.
The great thing about Smith, whether he plays on next year or not, is he will have a career off the field as a coach and mentor at whichever club he ends up.
I understand his family is now in Queensland and his children are at school on the Gold Coast. That is where his great mate Matt Geyer lives and works, and the two families are close.
The Broncos option
I’ve noticed recently how there have been stories linking Smith to the Broncos, the team supported as a young guy. Anthony Seibold said recently the club would consider making an offer.
I think I know what the Broncos are doing here. They are sending Smith a message that they are keen and to keep them in mind.
I’d love to see him at the Broncos. Culturally he would make a massive difference. The Broncos are crying out for leadership and he would provide it.
They are rudderless so imagine how he would lift that group. It would be like Allan Langer walking into the Maroons camp in 2001. They reckon the whole room lifted at his presence, and Cameron would have that impact wherever he goes.
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With their roster in disarray, if Smith came to the club the Broncos would find it easier to attract players and to keep the ones they want.
If he played for one year you can’t tell me the next CEO - and if that's Ben Ikin I’m sure he would agree - would want to keep him on board beyond that to help rebuild.
We are not certain who will coach Brisbane into the future but Smith and Kevin Walters would be a deadly combo for the forwards and the backs.
The Titans option
We are starting to see the magic Mal Meninga has weaved at the Titans. Mal got it right with coach Justin Holbrook and now he has lured David Fifita, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Herman Ese’ese to the club next year.
With Shannon Boyd’s retirement and Ryan James moving to Canberra and no doubt other player movement to come there should be cap space for Smith.
The Titans are coming out of the doldrums and I see them building towards being a top-eight side next year. Smith would take them into top-four calculations.
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He would be rubbing his hands together about what he could achieve with AJ Brimson, Ash Taylor and Jamal Fogarty in the spine.
The Mal factor is a big one here. That Smith/Meninga combination won nine Origin series together as senior player/captain and coach. That bond would be strong.
One phone call from Mal to Cameron would give him food for thought.
We don’t know what the COVID-19 situation will be like in Melbourne next year so I see family considerations also playing into the Gold Coast’s favour, with Cameron hailing from just up the road at Logan Brothers.
As the Titans look to rebuild their franchise having Smith as part of it on and off the field would be a winner.
The Storm option
I guess staying at the club where Smith has played his entire career makes a lot of sense and Melbourne are coming to a critical juncture in their history.
Craig Bellamy is contracted until the end of next year and if he was to pull the pin then getting that post-Bellamy transition right will be crucial.
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The club is so well run and the movers and shakers in the Victorian capital will be wanting Smith to take them into the next era.
If Smith was happy to stay living in Melbourne then he would be the perfect fit and could transition into that coaching role. No player understands what makes the Storm tick like him.
The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.
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