‘I had a little cry’: the moment Melbourne’s larrikin broke down in tears

Melbourne larrikin Brandon Smith broke down in tears when told he had likely suffered a facial fracture which would end his season as teammate Josh Addo-Carr also declared himself fit for the Storm’s grand final rematch against a battered Penrith.

Less than 24 hours after the Panthers booked a preliminary final showdown with last year’s conquerors, New Zealand international Smith and Kangaroos flyer Addo-Carr sent an ominous warning to Ivan Cleary’s men as they firm to overcome injury scares.

Smith feared his 2021 season was over after a head clash with Manly’s Josh Aloiai in Melbourne’s thumping qualifying final win, but will be fit for the blockbuster against Penrith on Saturday afternoon.

“When it happened, it hurt,” Smith said. “I didn’t think I had broken it. They asked what the symptoms were and I just said my face was numb. And they just thought that was a clear sign of a fracture.

“I had a little cry in the change rooms for a bit.

“I couldn’t have gone out there afterwards moping around feeling sorry for myself because the team wouldn’t have wanted that. I just had to try to stay as positive as I could for the team and try to have some impact on the boys. It took a little while to get over it.”

Brandon Smith broke down in tears when he thought his season was over with a facial fracture.Credit:Getty

Smith was later cleared of any break and will again form a devastating one-two punch with State of Origin star Harry Grant out of dummy-half for Craig Bellamy’s side, gunning for a fifth grand final appearance in the last six years.

Their case will be strengthened with news Addo-Carr is sprinting at “95 per cent” after sitting out the Storm’s first final. The Bulldogs-bound ace could potentially be playing his last game for Melbourne if they can’t beat the Panthers.

Asked about his injury, Addo-Carr said: “I’ve been doing everything I can to try to get back. You’ve obviously got to start at 60 or 70 per cent and I think it’s been three weeks now. I’ve got up to 95 per cent and the physio reckons I’m in a good spot.

“I’ve done the exact same injury way back in 2018. I knew at the time and I felt a short, sharp pain. I didn’t think too much of it.”

“I’m guessing there’s going to be a few sore bodies coming up next week in the Panthers side.”

What isn’t in doubt is the huge advantage the Storm will have over the Panthers, who were forced to win an epic against arch rivals Parramatta after a shock qualifying final loss to South Sydney.

Storm stars recounted the toll of losing in week one of the finals, which preceded a grand final qualifier loss to the Roosters in 2019. They gathered in their team room to watch Penrith’s thrilling win in Mackay, no doubt relishing the fact it was such a physical contest.

“Sitting back and taking my player cap off for a minute and just being a fan and watching that game, it’s good to see low-scoring affairs are still in there,” fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen said. “It was a brutal game.

“I’m still pretty sore from the other day. After what we saw last night, it was a bit of bash-up. We prepped like we were playing and had a little match simulation. It’s just not that physical side of it.

“You’re still ticking your legs over, but you’re not doing the travel and it’s a nice freshen-up. You can probably see it as a bit of advantage, but the body is just a little bit fresher.”

Said Smith: “I’m not so sure I enjoyed the bashing, but I did enjoy the game though. It was a cracker. I’m guessing there’s going to be a few sore bodies coming up next week in the Panthers side.”

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