Cameron Smith retirement: Storm legend drops huge hint over future
Cameron Smith retirement: Storm legend drops huge hint over future

Big sign Smith is heading home to Queensland

Melbourne Storm legend Cameron Smith has splashed out on a Gold Coast property in the biggest sign yet that he is on the verge of retiring.

Sport Confidential understands Smith and wife Barbara have invested in a Gold Coast house and picked up a new car following their move to Queensland.

While the Storm are hunkered down in a Sunshine Coast hub, Smith's family is living on the Gold Coast with his kids enrolled in local schools.

Most other Storm families are living with the players and staff at Twin Waters, with kids in Sunshine Coast schools or homeschooling.

 

Smith, 37, is yet to make public his plans beyond 2020 and conducted a number of interviews this week in which he said he was undecided about his future.

Smith said he is open to returning to Melbourne for the 2021 season, however that remains unlikely with many believing he will announce his retirement if the Storm can win the 2020 NRL premiership.

Powerful Gold Coast Titans figures told Sport Confidential the club has not held any discussions with Smith about a possible cameo, but they would be open to signing him if the opportunity arises.

 

Cameron Smith has bought a pad on the Gold Coast. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty
Cameron Smith has bought a pad on the Gold Coast. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty

 

However, after nearly 430 NRL games for the Storm, it would seem strange for Smith to pull on a rival club's jersey in his twilight years.

What has become clear over the past few years is Smith walks to the beat of his own drum and won't be pressured into making decisions by others.

He could throw a curveball and push on towards 450-plus NRL games in a 2021 farewell season at the Storm alongside departing coach Craig Bellamy.

It would be fitting for Smith and Bellamy to depart in the same season, but a hammer blow to the Storm to lose their two biggest figures at once.

When Smith does decide to hang up the boots he will retire to Queensland and has a fresh property ready for him and his family.

 

KEVVIE REJECTS RED V

Kevin Walters' desire to coach the Broncos was so strong he was prepared to knock back interest from the Dragons to chase his dream job.

Sport Confidential can reveal St George Illawarra reached out to Walters during the Red V's search for a replacement following the sacking of Paul McGregor six weeks ago.

The Dragons did not guarantee any job to Walters but were prepared to shortlist the Queensland Origin coach and grant him an interview.

 

St George Illawarra approached Kevin Walters. Picture: Josh Woning
St George Illawarra approached Kevin Walters. Picture: Josh Woning

 

At the time, Broncos coach Anthony Seibold was still entrenched at Brisbane and there was no inkling he was just two weeks away from quitting after a turbulent season at Red Hill.

Walters' management were also prepared to put his hat in the ring for the Cowboys job following the sacking of Paul Green, but 'Kevvie' made it clear he only had eyes for the Broncos gig.

"Since I finished playing 20 years ago this was the job that I wanted," Walters said of his Broncos ambitions.

"I've had a number of opportunities put to me in the last few years but I wanted to take my time and not just rush into a decision.

"I was always keen to eventually get into NRL head coaching and I think I'm the right fit for the Broncos."

BRONCOS GO MISSING

Walters organised his own media blitz after Brisbane bosses decided to not hold an official unveiling for the Broncos' new coach.

Walters was announced as Anthony Seibold's successor on Wednesday after inking a two-year deal to take the reins at Red Hill.

But there was no grand announcement or press conference to welcome the return of a prodigal son as the Broncos attempted to dodge questions about Craig Bellamy's possible signing as coaching director.

 

Karl Morris and Brisbane brass went into hiding. Picture: Annette Dew
Karl Morris and Brisbane brass went into hiding. Picture: Annette Dew

 

Instead of the Broncos rolling out the red carpet for Walters, the coach organised numerous interviews with media organisations.

Walters broke his silence with News Corp Australia on Wednesday morning before posing for photographs at Kangaroo Point.

He then chatted to Channel 9's Wally Lewis and headed to Red Hill to catch up with Channel 7 and 10 reporters.

Walters also did interviews with Triple M and Fox League's NRL360 before appearing on radio on Thursday morning.

The affable Walters has always been well-liked and his willingness to conduct numerous interviews resulted in the Broncos receiving a well needed dose of good publicity.

Meanwhile, Broncos bosses avoided the cameras as the club grows nervous about the acquisition of Bellamy, who has become frustrated with negotiations going public.

Brisbane Broncos star Kotoni Staggs unwittingly had a sex tape uploaded to a popular adult website. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Brisbane Broncos star Kotoni Staggs unwittingly had a sex tape uploaded to a popular adult website. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

 

STAGGS GOES VIRAL

Brisbane Broncos star Kotoni Staggs unwittingly featured on one of the world's biggest adult websites following the leaking of a sex tape.

Sport Confidential has been told the video of Staggs was uploaded to a hugely popular adults film website, which we have chosen not to name.

The video has since been removed from the site as the woman featured, McKenzie Robinson, prepares to plead guilty to a charge of releasing the video.

There is no suggestion Robinson was responsible for uploading the video to the website.

However, it shows how far the sex tape could have travelled in the internet age, with people around the world having access to the film.

What started as a video being shared privately has ended up being uploaded to the internet for everyone to see.

It should serve as a warning to sports stars next time they think about getting the phone out in private environments.

 

BRONCOS RAMP UP STORM SURGE

The Broncos' raid on the Melbourne Storm is continuing with Brisbane now targeting one of the code's best recruitment chiefs in Paul Bunn.

Sport Confidential can reveal Bunn has been sounded out by new Broncos coach Kevin Walters to return to the club where he served for 13 years for former Brisbane mentors Wayne Bennett and Ivan Henjak.

Bunn has helped recruit a stable of kids who became NRL stars, including Justin Hodges, Sam Thaiday, Corey Oates, Cameron Munster, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Brandon Smith and Harry Grant.

Since joining the Storm in 2012, Bunn, who is off-contract this month, has helped bring more than 30 debutants into the Melbourne system.

 

Storm recruitment boss Paul Bunn (R) with Wayne Bennett in 2002. Picture: Bruce Long
Storm recruitment boss Paul Bunn (R) with Wayne Bennett in 2002. Picture: Bruce Long

 

The Broncos are already attempting to poach Melbourne CEO Dave Donaghy and coach Craig Bellamy and Bunn has been added to the hit list.

As if the Broncos cherrypicking the Storm isn't worrying enough, now the Cowboys are raiding Melbourne.

North Queensland have added a fresh face to head up their recruitment arm with former Storm development staffer Dane Campbell to head to Townsville at season's end.

The Cowboys have been on the hunt since losing gun recruiter Clint Zammit to Newcastle two months ago and they have secured Campbell, Paul Bunn's right-hand man in the Storm's development program.

Campbell was farewelled by Storm players on Wednesday and is highly-rated by Melbourne. The 35-year-old played six NRL games for the Knights in 2005 and was the man who signed Titans-bound Storm sensation Tino Fa'asuamaleaui.

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has thrown his support behind the Brisbane Bombers. Image by Scott Davis
Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy has thrown his support behind the Brisbane Bombers. Image by Scott Davis

 

BELLAMY BACKS BOMBERS

Storm super coach Craig Bellamy has backed ARL Commission boss Peter V'landys' plan for expansion and has declared the Bombers should be Brisbane's second team.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's semi-final against the Eels at Suncorp Stadium, Bellamy believes the Bombers should be given a licence as the NRL's 17th team.

The Bombers held talks with Bellamy last Christmas about being the club's coaching director if the NRL decided to expand in 2022 or 2023.

Revelations of the Broncos' approach to Bellamy could scupper the prospective club's plan, but the champion Storm coach likes the look of the Bombers blueprint.

"I have a soft spot for the Bombers," he said.

 

The Brisbane Bombers team logo. Picture: AAP/Darren England
The Brisbane Bombers team logo. Picture: AAP/Darren England

 

"Having said that, Redcliffe have been such a successful club for such a long period of time.

"When I was with the Broncos, they (Redcliffe) were a powerhouse and the NRL will look for a club that can stand on its own feet financially and go from there.

"I know a couple of guys with the Bombers and they have been trying to get in for years and I really feel for them because it looked like the NRL would expand (in 2015 and 2018) and then they didn't.

"Knowing the Bombers guys and understanding what they have been through, I would like to see them get in.

"Peter V'landys is saying there will be another team and usually what Peter says, something happens, with the way he leads.

"The Bombers are the team I'd like to see get in, but whatever club gets in, they would do a good job and make it a success. The NRL is screaming out for a second Brisbane team."

Tom Opacic is headed for Parramatta. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Tom Opacic is headed for Parramatta. Picture: Alix Sweeney

 

OPACIC HEADS SOUTH

Another top-liner has quit the Cowboys with rugged utility Tom Opacic signing with Parramatta.

Just a fortnight after popular forward John Asiata revealed he was leaving the Cowboys, Opacic has secured a one-year contract following talks with Eels coach Brad Arthur.

Opacic joined the Cowboys from the Broncos in 2019 and had a brilliant debut season in Townsville, scoring seven tries from 19 games. But the 26-year-old struggled for regular action this season, managing just five games as he fell out of favour with coach Paul Green.

Arthur likes Opacic's defensive ability and versatility and believes he can put pressure on Eels centres Waqa Blake and Michael Jennings, who turns 33 next year.

 

Gold Coast Titans captain Ryan James was in tears at his final home game. (Photo/Steve Holland)
Gold Coast Titans captain Ryan James was in tears at his final home game. (Photo/Steve Holland)

FAREWELL RYAN

Departing Gold Coast captain Ryan James was reduced to tears during a farewell tribute at his final home game.

The Titans played a video montage for James at Cbus Super Stadium before last Friday's big win against Newcastle.

James was visibly emotional during the package as the Gold Coast crowd applauded his decade-long contribution to the Titans.

James, 29, joined the Titans as a teenager and debuted in 2010, racking up 144 NRL games for his home town club.

There are few more respected players in the game and he will be a huge loss for the Titans on and off the field, despite having not played since Round 6 last year due to serious knee injuries.

If James can get firing and remain injury-free he will be a handy pick-up for Canberra next year.

SHOOSH

Which Queensland Origin legend is having money problems? He is annoying fellow FOGS by constantly borrowing money and not paying them back.

Originally published as Big sign Smith is heading home to Queensland


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