You could have forgiven footy fans for putting their house on Cameron Smith winning the Clive Churchill Medal at halftime of Sunday’s NRL Grand Final.
Hopefully, no one did.
The Storm skipper snuck over for a try seconds before the break then nailed the conversion to give his side a 22-0 lead over Penrith with 40 minutes to go in the decider.
A Melbourne win seemed inevitable from there and Smith was already being anointed as the man of the match — at least, he was by the bookies.
Sportsbet was so sure the Storm hooker would be declared the best player on the field it paid out early to punters who believed the same thing. As the players guzzled down Gatorade and orange slices during the break, Smith was paying $1.08 to win the Clive Churchill Medal and anyone who had him down as the winner of the award, or in a multi-bet, was in for a treat.
All up, Sportsbet paid out a little over $5 million to those banking on Smith taking home an extra piece of silverware.
Unfortunately for the betting agency, come full-time Smith was trumped by teammate Ryan Papenhuyzen — meaning the $5 million would have stayed in its pocket had it not gone off early.
“After 430 NRL games including eight deciders, we figured he (Smith) would know how to play out a whole match,” sportsbet.com.au’s Rich Hummerston said.
“The silver lining is the $1.3 million we paid out early on Labor to win the 2019 election doesn’t seem so bad.”
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Winners are grinners.Source:Getty Images
Papenhuyzen enjoyed a breakout year at fullback for the Storm, earning a place in Brad Fittler’s NSW Origin squad.
He scored a scintillating length-of-the-field try in the second half of the Grand Final to open up a 26-0 lead as the Storm held on for a thrilling 26-20 win.
“I’m so emotional. Wow. The whole day was just the unknown. You don’t know what's going to happen. It’s the most butterflies I’ve ever had,” Papenhuyzen told Channel 9 after full-time.
“We’ve done it so tough this year. Back home they’re doing it a lot tougher than we are. I’m so happy. We’re going to celebrate alright.
“That first half — that was the best defensive performance I’ve seen this year. Our first half definitely set the platform. It’s unbelievable.”
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