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Storm skippers Dale Finucane and Jesse Bromwich.

New Storm co-captains Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane plan to pick Cameron Smith's brain on his famed ref-whispering techniques as Melbourne's post-Big Three era officially kicks off.

While Smith's own uncertain future continues to dominate headlines, two of the game's quietest elite achievers in Bromwich and Finucane have been tasked with succeeding one of the finest leaders in rugby league history.

The Storm have been prepared for Smith's absence for several months, long planning for their first season without the champion hooker, as well as old teammates Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater, since 2002.

Among a host of new duties that come with skippering an NRL club, both Bromwich and Finucane concede they are on a steep learning curve when it comes to talking to referees during games.

Smith's influence with the whistleblowers has been a talking point in the back end of his career.

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The champion hooker admitted in a 2019 Matty Johns podcast that "you try and plant the seed" in his interactions with the officials, but has always stressed it is nothing more than competitive instinct kicking in.

Melbourne recently appointed former NRL referees' boss Bernard Sutton as a technical consultant for 2021 to help manage their on-field discipline, while Bromwich and Finucane said they would call on Smith's advice about approaching referees this season.

"It's something that we haven't had to deal with a whole lot," Finucane said.

"Jesse [has] in parts of his career when Cameron's been injured which was rare. But it's something that's going to be new to us.

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"Cameron's been here for such a long period of time that we haven't had to worry about those sorts of things.

"That will be a conversation that Jesse and I will have with Cameron about when to approach referees... because it's a new role for us I think we can learn from him."

Coach Craig Bellamy plans to manage his interchange rotation so Melbourne would have either Bromwich or Finucane on the paddock to lead his side.

Bellamy and his new skippers all spoke with Smith on Friday morning about the pair's appointment, but said Smith's own future did not come up in conversation.

With Harry Grant tipped to replace Smith in the No.9 jersey and either Ryan Papenhuyzen or Cameron Munster to take his old kicking tee, the captaincy is the final piece of Melbourne's post-Smith puzzle.

"I don’t think people realise how much we will miss Cameron, he’s probably the best dummy-half [hooker] there has ever been," Bellamy said.

"We will miss him there without a doubt but he is also our goal-kicker. Our captain. There are so many things that you don’t realise how well he has done them. We have to make up for them.

"Even myself, I was blind to that at the start of the pre-season."

For 29-year-old Finucane the captaincy also points to extension talks soon to be kicked off regarding his next deal after 2021.

Bromwich meanwhile takes on the leadership ahead of his 12th season at the Storm.

A one-club career looms for the 31-year-old Kiwi international, who was first invited to take part in an under 20s training session only after younger brother Kenny had vouched for his ability.

Until that point then-Storm staffer Brad Arthur had suspicions the hulking bloke on the sidelines was spying on his team's preparations.

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Bellamy said both have long been setting standards at the powerhouse club and had emerged as natural leaders over time.

"Jesse is probably one of the most respected players, among our players, of anyone at any club I’ve ever been involved with just through what he has done and how he has improved his game,” Bellamy said.

"He’s won three of our player-of-the-year awards in a row and that was while our big three were at their best.

"I’ve never seen anyone prepare for what they need to do at the weekend better than Dale. He doesn’t leave any stone unturned, he doesn’t take short-cuts and he’s fully team orientated.

"We thought it would be the best thing for Jess and Dale to share the role and they're both really happy with it.

"While we've got great confidence in them as players and as our captain but they're going to need some help from other players and a lot of support."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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