Smith set to play on in 2019
MAROONS skipper Cameron Smith is set to shelve retirement plans and sign another NRL contract in a move that would make him the last man standing of Melbourne’s Big Three.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy has revealed he expects Smith to suit up for a remarkable 18th season of NRL next year to help guide the club through the expected retirement of champion fullback Billy Slater.
Smith and Bellamy are both off-contract at season’s end, but the Storm coach said the duo, who have worked together for 16 years, will decide their futures independently.
It is understood Melbourne have devised a succession plan that includes Smith playing on in 2019, providing leadership stability to combat the anticipated retirement of Slater.
Veteran halfback Cooper Cronk stunned Storm bosses by joining the Roosters this season, shattering Melbourne’s Holy Trinity that included Smith and Slater. Smith played his 365th first-grade game against Brisbane on Friday night and a 12-month extension will put him on track to become the first player in history to reach 400 NRL matches.
Smith, who turns 35 in June, said in pre-season that he was mindful of playing a year too long, but Bellamy believes the Queensland rake will wear Storm colours next season.
“I reckon Cam has another year or two in him,” the Storm coach said.