Rugby league great Cameron Smith has admitted continuing on with the Melbourne Storm in 2021 was never really an option.
Smith, 37, retired on the eve of the 2021 season after an illustrious career with the Storm that culminated in winning the 2020 NRL Grand Final in his last first-grade game.
While the legendary hooker clearly had the ability to continue playing on, he cited the progression of young stars Harry Grant and Brandon Smith as a key reason to why he left the game.
Joining SEN Gold Coast’s Pat and Heals, Smith was asked how close he was to continuing on for one last season in 2021.
“I was well down the track, thinking about playing and weighing it up,” Smith replied.
“One thing I knew, I didn’t want to be a hinderance in Melbourne.
“What I mean by that is, we got two young guys, fantastic dummy-halfs down there right now in Brandon Smith and Harry Grant.
“I spoke with Craig last year - this is before the season had finished - and I spoke to him about my concern about if I was to play on in 2021, being in Melbourne and holding those guys back, and potentially one of them leaving.
“The club to lose one of those outstanding players would have been the wrong thing to do.”
With the Queenslander keen to return to his home state, he admitted that the “only option” for him to continue playing would have been with the Brisbane Broncos or the Gold Coast Titans.
“Really, the only option for me if I was playing on was going to be in Brisbane or the Gold Coast.
“That was something I had to weigh up also, it just came down to that I felt it was the right time to finish, coming off a premiership last year and where my family is at the moment with everything that’s going on with the kids and Barb, my wife.
“It was just time to sit back and spend more time with them.”