NRL guru Phil Gould has urged Cameron Smith to be “fair” to the Melbourne Storm following speculation his retirement decision is still months away.
The 37-year-old legend was reportedly expected to announce his intention to hang up the boots at the end of 2020 — or to play on again in 2021 — this month, but has delayed the decision until August, according to NRL reporter Andrew Webster.
Webster told Channel 9’s 100% Footy on Monday night Smith’s decision leaves the Storm needing an answer before the club can begin to sort out its recruitment and salary cap strategy for 2021.
The longer Smith delays the decision, the more headaches the Storm will have.
It’s why Gould on Monday night urged the star to be “fair” to the club when he considers playing on.
It comes after Smith produced another spectacular, crafty performance in his team’s win over Newcastle in Round 5.
Smith has left the NRL world on the hook in recent years after a series of suggestions he could retire at the end of 2018 and 2019.
The Storm have a few stars up their sleeve.Source:Getty Images
After a drawn out contract negotiation with the Storm in 2018, Smith eventually signed a two-year deal through to the end of 2020 — but then revealed he had a handshake agreement that would have allowed him to retire at the end of 2019 if he wanted to.
Gould says it’s time for the club to come first.
The Channel 9 commentator says it’s a particularly tough position for the club to find itself in given Smith can essentially run his own race at his own pace considering his standing in the game as the greatest player of his generation.
“He’s going to be given the option to decide his own retirement by the sound of it,” Gould said.
“That’s where he is, that’s the status he has within the club and the game.
“Cameron has got to be fair on his club. That club has been very good to him over a long period of time, he’s obviously been great for them, but he’s got to be fair to them too.
“There’s a long future without Cameron Smith that the club has got to be considering and it’s not all about him. So, he’s got to be fair to the club too.
Time for Cam Smith to retire? | NRL on Nine https://t.co/MUoIvpZ4wr via @YouTube
“This would have been about the time we wold have expected the decision for next year. Don’t worry about the fact that we’ve had what we’ve had. I think he’s got to be fair to the club and himself and give some indication of whether he’s going to go around next year or not.”
When asked if Smith should retire this season, Gould said: “I think you’ve got to be fair to the club and the rest of the team. He’s had a great run.”
Smith’s old State of Origin rival Paul Gallen, however, said it’s particularly difficult because — even at the age of 37 — “Smith has still got it”.
Meanwhile, Webster reported the Tigers are also on the hook with Smith’s retirement decision because of the club’s loan deal with rising star hooker Harry Grant.
The Storm have loaned Grant to the Tigers for the season, but he could be “snapped up” by the Tigers if Smith plays on in 2021 — as a result of a clause in Grant’s contract
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