The Storm have all but confirmed that Cameron Smith will not be on Melbourne’s books for season 2021 by not naming the NRL legend in their new leadership group.
And while the Titans had long been considered the front-runners to nab Smith’s signature, comments from Gold Coast head of performance Mal Meninga have made the Brisbane Broncos the most likely club to sign the 430-game champion.
The Storm can be all but ruled out as a potential 2021 home for Smith after the club today announced Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane as co-captains. Joining the veteran forwards in Melbourne’s leadership group are Kenny Bromwich, Cameron Munster, Felise Kaufusi and Christian Welch.
The fact that Smith last year bought a house on the Gold Coast and enrolled his kids in school on the Glitter Strip had made the Titans his chief suitor. The dual Dally M medalist’s links to the Titans then strengthened when he was on Tuesday spotted kicking a footy at Firth Park on the Gold Coast and posing for a photo with a fan.
However, comments from Meninga this week have cast serious doubt over the Titans’ ties to Smith.
“We haven’t talked to Cam Smith – that is 100 per cent fact,” Meninga told The Courier Mail.
“It really is that simple. There is all sorts of talk about him living on the Gold Coast and playing for us, but we haven’t spoken to him.
“I don’t have any idea what Cam is doing. I don’t know if he’s retiring. I’m in the dark like everyone else. But I know he won’t be at the Titans.
“Because he was down at Mudgeeraba in a light-blue shirt kicking a footy around in boots people want to think he’s going to sign with the Titans. I wasn’t behind the toilet shed trying to sign him, I can tell you.
“He won’t be with us – simple as that.”
Meninga again attempted to quash rumours of Smith linking with the Titans at yesterday’s Fox League launch.
“I haven’t spoken to Cameron,” Meninga said.
“He’s the hardest man in the world to get a hold of.
“It’s all speculation. Everyone assumes he’s coming to the Titans. He’s not on the radar.
“You should ask (Broncos coach) Kevvie (Walters) about Cameron so I don’t have to answer these questions anymore.”
But Broncos chairman Karl Morris suggested the club was interested in Smith in an interview with The Courier Mail.
“Look, who wouldn’t want Cam Smith? He is a legend of the game,” Morris said.
“But I can honestly say I haven’t spoken to him and I don’t know anyone at the Broncos who has spoken to him.
“The ball is in his court. If Cam called any club tomorrow and said he wanted to play for them, including the Broncos, you would send a limousine to his house.
“Which of the 16 clubs would not want Cam on their books? But we haven’t had any talks so we haven’t had any plans to sign him.”
The Broncos now have room in their salary cap to accommodate Smith after hooker Andrew McCullough this week departed for St George Illawarra.
Brisbane are believed to now have $500,000 remaining in the salary cap, which is enough to afford Smith – a player worth $1 million – from March or April given half of the NRL contracting year will have passed by then.
Seven reporter Chris Garry today reported that Smith had commented on his future at a lunch function and still hadn’t ruled out playing in 2021: “I don’t know … I still have a big decision to make,” Smith reportedly said.