To the uninitiated the gesture, warmly applauded by the rest of the team and the majority of the 39,000 spectators in attendance, was a fitting farewell to the venue where the former Queensland and Australian captain had just played his last match before heading into well-earned retirement.
Except for one thing.
Smith isn’t retiring. Or if he is, 우리카지노사이트 he isn’t saying.
Melbourne’s Storm’s Cameron Smith (pictured) chaired from the field on his teammate’s shoulders in Brisbane on Friday after the Storm secured a place in the NRL Grand Final
Cameron Smith and his wife Barbara (pictured) arrive ahead of the Dally M Awards at The Star on September 27, 2017 in Sydney
Sure, he might be 37 years-old with a record 400-plus games under his belt but as he told reporters after the Storm dispatched the Canberra Raiders to earn a spot in Sunday night’s decider against the Penrith Panthers, he simply hasn’t made up his mind about whether to play on next season.
So what was the lap of honour, commemorative photograph and chairing-off all about then?
Well, according to Smith, it was gee-up, a bit of a laugh orchestrated by Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
‘He told me to get on their shoulders,’ he said.
‘I thought it would be a nice thing to do, 우리카지노계열 just in case it was the last time he played here,’ he said with a big smile, as if the whole thing was just a nice light-hearted practical joke on his mate Smithy.
Except there’s a bit of a problem there too.
Craig Bellamy doesn’t do jokes.
Not in public anyway. He might be the life of the party amongst close friends and Storm insiders, but to the outside world light-hearted isn’t a term you’d readily associate with the ultra-competitive Melbourne coach.
Gruff, yes. Grumpy, definitely.
Taciturn, possibly, but friendly? No.
So what was it all about then?
It was a tactic, a smokescreen. The first shot in a week of sneaky tricks and one-upmanship.
Cameron Smith (pictured with his wife Barbara) said he remains undecided about whether he would retire in 2021 but was still chaired from the field after Friday’s game
Storm head coach Craig Bellamy (pictured left) and Cameron Smith of the Storm hold the J.
J. Giltinan Shield on September 06, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. Bellamy could be using the question of Smith’s retirement to put Penrith off their game in the NRL Grand Final
To understand Craig Bellamy it is important to remember that he did his coaching apprenticeship at the feet of the master of deception, Wayne Bennett.
Bennett, whose poker face makes Bellamy look like Billy Crystal, has made an art form of big match subterfuge.
Whether it is putting pressure on referees by highlighting the raft of illegal and potentially life-threatening tactics that opposition coaches are supposedly drilling into their players behind closed doors, or firing up his own side by employing former team-mates to criticise them in the media, he is in a class of his own.
His greatest moment came when he got hold of a game plan prepared by St George coach Brian Smith before the Dragons took on Bennett’s Broncos in the 1992 grand final.
Smith had put together a fairly innocuous description of the Broncos players for his team to read through ahead of the game, but by the time Bennett had done some judicious editing it was anything but tame.
Where Smith might have said something along the lines of ‘watch out for Kerrod Walters to run from dummy half’, Bennett’s version read more like ‘Kerrod Walters is just a speed bump’.
Kerrod’s brother Kevin, in Smith’s opinion, might have been a ‘great support player’ but when Wayne read it out it sounded more like ‘loud-mouthed fat little lair’.
According to Smith, Broncos’ hit-man Trevor ‘The Axe’ Gillmeister was (to hear Bennett tell it, anyway) ‘not as tough as he makes out’.
The fired-up Broncos took the Dragons apart and Smith has referred to Bennett as ‘the spin-doctor’ ever since.
But Bennett’s number one signature move is averting attention from his players in the lead-up to big games so they can concentrate on their preparation unhindered.
Usually he does this by putting the focus on himself, either by saying or doing something inflammatory.
Whether it is claiming to have been unfairly treated by an official of another club (or, if necessary, his own) or even going out to lunch during a pandemic lockdown, Bennett has never had any trouble earning headlines and taking the heat off his players.
Bellamy has learnt the dark art well.
The only difference this week is that he hasn’t focussed all the attention on himself, he has directed it onto his captain.
Smith stepped down from the Kangaroos captaincy in 2017 with questions circling about whether he will continue in the game in 2021
And why not?
Cameron Smith is the most experienced player in the game. He has been through more finals, Origin deciders and Test matches than any person alive. The fact that thanks to Bellamy this week’s media attention will be all about whether Sunday’s match will be his last, won’t worry him in the slightest.
In fact, if it worries anyone it will be the Panthers players and supporters.
It’s no secret that while Cameron Smith is revered in Melbourne and enjoys Origin sainthood status in Queensland, outside those rugby league outposts he is arguably the most disliked player in the game.
Described variously in NSW as a cheat, 우리카지노사이트 referees’ pet and darling of officialdom (who can forget the $10,000 diamond ring the NRL gifted his wife on the occasion of his 400th game?) the sight of him being chaired off Suncorp would have had Blues blood boiling.
And 우리카지노총판 if that memory, added to the feeling that his ‘farewell tour’ has hijacked their grand final week experience, puts the young, impressionable Panthers off their game even one percent on Sunday, Bellamy will have done his mentor Bennett proud.
Smith, the former Australian captain, has played the most NRL games of any player in history