Cameron Smith's most likely move next season
I NEED to declare from the outset that I have no 'mail' whatsoever on where Cameron Smith will be playing next year. My contacts at both Brisbane and Melbourne are giving me nothing.
But my gut feeling is he will sign with the Broncos, and not just because of the rumoured multi-million dollar offer. Smith turns 31 in June, and even though he is so savvy on the field that he could play in a dinner suit, the time for him to start planning a post-playing career is closing in.
Despite his age, Smith would be an amazing coup for the Broncos. He is a player who meticulously looks after his body and how it is fuelled, and on the basis that Darren Lockyer played on at all levels of the game until he was 34, Smith has at least three more years at the top.
A move to the Broncos seems logical. With he and his wife from Brisbane and two of their three children under school age, there is no more convenient time to move closer to family.
Having recently experienced first-hand an almost identical family situation, I can appreciate the pressure his wife Barb must be feeling. Friends and acquaintances can be a terrific help, but they are not family.
And without besmirching the potential leadership qualities of Justin Hodges and Corey Parker, the Broncos obviously crave a leader. The unceremonious fall of Sam Thaiday clearly demonstrates that.
Sadly though, Smith's arrival would almost certainly mean the departure of Andrew McCullough, a potential Broncos skipper and Queensland Origin hooker. McCulllough is a terrific talent, highlighted by the fact that the season before last he joined Allan Langer and Josh Hoffman as the youngest winners of the Paul Morgan Medal as Broncos player of the year.
But the 'mail' is that if Smith moves to Brisbane, McCullough will join the Storm. And McCullough is rumoured to be joining the same management company as Smith, which could be construed as convenient.
No doubt the Storm will do all in its power to retain Smith who is unquestionably one of the best players in the game. In fact he is considered by some with longer memories than me to be among the absolute greats.
The issue the Storm faces is continuing to fit Smith and his cohorts, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk, into their salary cap structure. I'm told the trio presently eats up one third.
But what is so unpalatable about this situation is that we are discussing the future of Cameron Smith 12 months before he plays a game for his new club if that does eventuate.
That clubs are permitted to negotiate with a player that far in advance is a blight on the game, and must change.