While the Titans have officially ruled themselves out of the race for Cameron Smith, the Broncos have upped the ante in a last-ditch bid to sign the NRL legend.
While the Titans have officially ruled themselves out of the race for Cameron Smith, the Broncos have upped the ante in a last-ditch bid to sign the NRL legend.

Broncos enlist tycoon to help lure Smith

The Broncos have enlisted a multi-millionaire business tycoon to hold negotiations with Cameron Smith in a desperate last-ditch bid to save the Storm champion from retirement.

The Courier-Mail can reveal the Titans are officially out of the running to sign Smith, with sources close to the Queensland great adamant he has privately drawn the curtain on his glittering NRL career.

Smith was spotted at Suncorp Stadium, the scene of his great Origin triumphs, on Tuesday hosting a group of corporate companies who paid to attend a guest-speaking event.

Smith's decision to personally address Queensland's business elite of his life and times suggests he is finished with rugby league, but that hasn't stopped the Broncos having one final crack at the future NRL Immortal.

Broncos coach Kevin Walters has confirmed his interest in Smith and Brisbane have gone a step further, calling on a rich businessman who lives near Smith on the Gold Coast to help get a deal across the line.

Walters had one informal discussion with Smith last November, but the 430-game icon has sidestepped further phone calls from the Broncos coach and club bosses as he weighs up his future in the code.

Smith will almost certainly finish his career as a one-club Storm servant, but Broncos board member Darren Lockyer remains hopeful of Brisbane snaring his former Maroons teammate.

"We have a little bit of room in our salary cap for Cam due to some player movements," Lockyer said. "But it's a bit like the scenario with Craig Bellamy (Brisbane's pursuit of the Storm coach), we are waiting to see what Cam wants to do.

"If he decides to play on, he might be an option for us."

Asked if Smith will retire, Lockyer said: "I honestly don't know if he is playing on.

"As much as I have a relationship with Cam from our playing days, he has kept his cards close to his chest.

"Other than Bart Campbell (Storm powerbroker), I don't think anyone knows what Cam is going to do.

"Cam has always kept himself in good condition, so it probably wouldn't take him long to get back to NRL match fitness, but at this stage we've heard nothing from him."

 

Cameron Smith is keeping his plans close to his chest. Picture: Brett Costello
Cameron Smith is keeping his plans close to his chest. Picture: Brett Costello

 

Smith was in a relaxed mood at the Suncorp event. He looked noticeably lighter, suggesting he has not been in the gym preparing his 37-year-old frame for one last hurrah at Red Hill.

Amid the incessant confusion, the one certainty is Smith will not be at the Titans this season.

Titans culture boss Mal Meninga provided a glimmer of hope last week when he left the door ajar for Smith.

The Gold Coast board discussed the possibility of signing Smith, but have decided against making a formal offer, effectively shutting the door on a Cam comeback - unless the Broncos strike.

"I can tell you we haven't talked to Cameron," Titans CEO Steve Mitchell said.

"There has been no dialogue and our intention is to run out with the squad we have. We are three weeks away from the start of the season so we are concentrating on what we are doing and getting our round-one team ready to go for the Warriors game.

"We've had some general discussions about what a great player Cameron is, but there's been no real detail around it and we haven't made an approach to the Titans.

"The conversation is in the public domain but at our end signing Cam is honestly something we are not thinking about."

Brisbane halfback Brodie Croft played in the 2018 grand final at the Storm with Smith and implored him to join the Broncos.

"There is so much talk out there and he would be great to have here," he said.

"He is the greatest player to play the game so you wouldn't say no, but he's living on the Gold Coast at the moment.

"I have never been under a leader as good as him, especially his talk.

"Any situation on the field, in games or in a grand final, when he brings the boys into a huddle, the way he communicates, how direct he is and what he wants, because of what he has done in the game, everyone buys into what he says.

"I learnt so much with the way he conducts himself on the field, he is the greatest leader I have ever seen."

 

Originally published as Broncos enlist tycoon to help lure Smith


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