Is Cameron Smith the next Immortal?
Cameron Smith will need to be at his peak for the Storm against Manly. Images: (Mark Kolbe/AAP)
There has been a lot of talk this week following the Melbourne Storm’s victory in the NRL grand final that Storm captain Cameron Smith could be the next Immortal, and a future player-coach of Melbourne should Craig Bellamy leave for greener pastures.
Smith has been criticised for his errant goal-kicking in pressure games, as well as his wrestling tactics in the tackle area.
But we cannot deny Smith’s impressive performance as a player, nor the character of a man who, in a league full of controversy, has always showed us what truly is great about rugby league.
Smith capped a remarkable season by winning Melbourne’s player of the year award on Friday night.
The honour comes after he led the Storm to their second (or fourth, if you fancy stirring) premiership win in last week’s grand final, while he also guided Australia and Queensland to notable victories in 2012.
Smith received 28 votes to edge out Ryan Hoffman (26) and Cooper Cronk (23) for the award. It the 29-year-old’s fifth player of the year award, and it complements this year’s Dally M Hooker of the Year title.
He also became the second highest point scoring forward in history of game this season, and played 25 games out of a possible 27, taking his career club tally to 238 matches.
Also throw in his 24 Origin appearances for Queensland, including three man of the match awards and two Wally Lewis medals.
But wait, we’re not done yet. Don’t forget Smith’s 29 Tests for Australia and his two appearances for the NRL All Stars, or his Golden Boot Award in 2007, or the three times that he has been named RLIF Hooker of the Year (08, 09 and 11)
Smith won the Dally M medal in 2006. He has been Dally M Hooker of the Year four times (06, 08, 11, 12), Representative Player of the Year twice (07, 11) and Captain of the Year once, in 2011.
You can see why respected league writers put this man on a pedestal.
But Smith’s best attribute of all is his modesty, and the fact that he always heaps praise on his teamates and coaches.
Cameron Smith may be an Immortal one day. We could certainly do a lot worse.