We’ll be back, hun­grier than ever

Shat­tered Smith sends a warn­ing to the rest of the NRL

Rugby League Week - - The Mole - BY JOEL GOULD

CAMERON SMITH SAYS THE AGONY OF the grand fi­nal loss has left him hun­grier than ever to win an­other pre­mier­ship.

The Storm cap­tain al­ready has his sights on next year’s big dance af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the dev­as­ta­tion of los­ing a grand fi­nal for the sec­ond time.

“Af­ter tonight, the fire within me has grown from what it was the last three years, af­ter we won here in 2012,” Smith says.

“I’ve been in this po­si­tion be­fore in 2006. It was my first grand fi­nal and we got beaten by the Bron­cos, who were a big-game team at the time. That loss drove the en­tire squad, not just me, into that 2007 sea­son.

“I’ve been lucky to be in­volved in mul­ti­ple grand fi­nals and won a few pre­mier­ships, but this is a bit of a shal­low feel­ing.

“You work so hard for 10 months but we are now in the same po­si­tion as 14 other clubs . . . So when I go back to pre-sea­son train­ing, it’ll be all about grand fi­nal day in 2017. I want to be there and take this club back to num­ber one.”

Smith points out that there’s a very good rea­son why the club can go one bet­ter.

“Peo­ple have got to re­mem­ber that Billy Slater comes back into the side next year,” he says.

“He’s one of the great­est play­ers the game has ever seen and he’s played one game for us this year. As good as Cameron Mun­ster has been, Billy is the best full­back in the mod­ern game.” Mun­ster shares that hunger with his cap­tain. “Un­for­tu­nately I wasn’t up to my stan­dards [tonight]. I feel like I could’ve done more,” he ad­mits.

“I have a lot of fire in the belly for next year. I’m dev­as­tated. This [loss] has re­ally kicked in.”

WATCH OUT IN 2017 Smith says the re­turn of Billy Slater will spur the Storm to go one bet­ter next sea­son.

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