Munster expects Smith to play again

The Storm's Cameron Munster wouldn't mind if his former captain Cameron Smith signs elsewhere.
The Storm's Cameron Munster wouldn't mind if his former captain Cameron Smith signs elsewhere.

Cameron Munster expects Cameron Smith to play on in 2021, joking his former captain is still so good that the only way to stop him would be with a squirrel-grip.

Smith on Thursday was missing from his first NRL season launch in years, with the Immortal-in-waiting still yet to make an official call on his future.

With season's kick off just a week away, it now appears almost certain that Smith won't play in round one.

But at age 37 and without a preseason under his belt, Munster has no doubt the former Kangaroos skipper has the ability to play on and expects him to pop up at Gold Coast or Brisbane.

"I don't think he's done," Munster said. "I think he's still got a lot to give to the game, whatever team decides to sign him.

"At 37, it's scary to say, but he's still one of the best hookers in the game.

"He's not as fast as Damien Cook or an Api Koroisau, but he still has that aura and can play the game to his speed."

Munster also couldn't see why the appeal of going out with last year's premiership would stop Smith.

"I know a lot of people talk about how he might be done and he can go out a winner," Munster said.

"But if you still feel like you've got a lot to give to the game and you're enjoying training and doing the hard yards, I can't see why he can't go again."

The NRL's change in contract rules have also opened the door for Smith, meaning he would not need to join a club before August to appear.

And while Munster quipped on Thursday about how hard he'd be to face, he was insistent there would be no hard feeling about Smith playing elsewhere after 430 games for the Storm.

"I'll do what everyone else does and try to take him out," Munster joked.

"I might squirrel-grip him or something. If I do get to play against him I'd be very thankful. I've played along side him a lot, to play against him and see what he could do against us would be cool to see."

Meanwhile Munster also said there would be no hard feelings if Bellamy left the Storm next year to take up a coaching director's role with Brisbane or Cronulla.

The Storm are still hopeful of keeping Bellamy in Melbourne either in that position or as a head coach, and this week retained his right-hand-man Frank Ponissi until the end of 2024.

"It would be nice for him to stay," Munster said.

"It's the same as Smitty, it's crazy to think he'd be at another club, but never say never.

"We never thought Cooper (Cronk) would end up another club and he went to the Roosters.

"It was the right decision for himself. If Bellyache goes to another club for his family, then we won't hold any grudges or hard feelings."

Australian Associated Press