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Knock-on effect: Cameron's looming contract call to give Brandon clarity

Brandon Smith will have greater clarity on whether his future lies in Melbourne by the time he returns from a second facial fracture in six months, with Cameron Smith to make an all-important call on his future within the next few weeks.

Brandon Smith will be sidelined for at least the next month after he undergoes surgery for a broken jaw on Saturday.

His captain, Cameron Smith, is a strong chance to return from his shoulder injury against Manly next Sunday, and is also understood to be close to an announcement on his own career, potentially as early as leading into the round 16 clash at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

Smith's verdict on whether he plays on with Melbourne, interested suitors Brisbane or the Gold Coast, or calls time on his glittering 18-year career holds repercussions for Brandon Smith, fellow rake Harry Grant and the Storm's salary cap.

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While clarity over that scenario is expected sooner rather than later, Josh Addo-Carr's prospective switch to the Wests Tigers may take much longer given a player would need to be moved on for the joint-venture club to afford the NSW and Test flyer.

Storm officials have likened their handling of Brandon Smith's situation to that posed by Addo-Carr when his tenure was first raised late last year.

With Addo-Carr asking for an early release from his 2021 contract to return to Sydney on personal grounds, Melbourne agreed to consider that outcome if the club received compensation in the form of a "like-for-like" player or transfer fee.

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Brandon Smith's management has recently written to the Storm indicating a release request would be sought for his client if Cameron Smith were to remain next season.

Privately Melbourne are sticking to their guns given the younger Smith is contracted for another two years, but had agreed to "reassess" his situation should Smith continue to occupy the No.9 jersey next year.

The club is wary of growing speculation around the Kiwi Test star's future but won't be pressuring Cameron Smith for a call on his own.

It's understood that will come well before Brandon gets back on the paddock leading into the finals.

Both the Bulldogs and Titans would have the requisite salary cap space and a vacancy in his preferred hooking role to accommodate Brandon Smith next season.

Grant, on loan at the Tigers, has a similar arrangement in his contract that would make him a free agent should Cameron Smith go around again in 2021.

Given he is 22 years old, two years younger than Brandon Smith and only in his first full Telstra Premiership campaign, Grant is more likely to return to Melbourne and back up the skipper for another season than take his services elsewhere.

Addo-Carr meanwhile has gone on the record with his desire to become an NRL fullback and, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report, discussed such ambition with Tigers coach Michael Maguire.

Josh Addo-Carr made his debut for Wests Tigers in 2016.
Josh Addo-Carr made his debut for Wests Tigers in 2016. ©NRL Photos

Shifting Adam Douiehi to centre or five-eighth, especially if Benji Marshall retires, could create a No.1 vacancy for Addo-Carr, who began his career at the club.

However, the Tigers' tight 2021 salary cap is another hurdle to the 25-year-old international's return to Concord.

NRL.com understands that, as it stands, the Tigers would struggle to table a deal befitting Addo-Carr's standing as a representative outside back unless they are able to shift players, most likely one of the club's big-earners.

Co-captain Moses Mbye has been linked to the Titans, while Josh Reynolds has also fielded interest from Super League clubs recently.

Both utilities, as well as prop Russell Packer, are contracted for at least 2021 and understood to be earning more than $700,000 a year and rank as the team's top three earners.

All three were signed by Maguire's predecessor Ivan Cleary, while key 2020 acquisitions Joey Leilua and Doueihi were recruited under the current coach's direction.

Leilua's three-year Tigers deal contains an option in the club's favour for 2022.

Also to be considered in Addo-Carr's situation is the Storm's desire for compensation for the final 12 months of his contract.

The Storm's preference is for an outside back to fill Addo-Carr's slot rather than a transfer fee be paid by a rival club.

Under NRL rules such a transfer fee would count towards a club's football department spending rather than their salary cap.