He narrowly missed returning for Saturday night’s win over Canberra, but Melbourne are hopeful Cameron Munster can still come back early from a knee injury.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has given the biggest indication yet that Cameron Smith could have played his last NRL game.
The talismanic Storm skipper did not attend Wednesday night’s Dally M awards as he battles illness, just days after revealing he would weigh up his future over the off-season.
Smith claimed his eighth hooker of the year award, and finished just three points shy of James Tedesco for the top gong after yet another stellar season for his side.
He was also named as the NRL’s captain of the year, prompting Bellamy to deliver a touching tribute from the stage and admit he may not have his No.9 next season.
“Two or three weeks ago I was pretty confident he would play again next year,” Bellamy said.
“But on Mad Monday and sometimes you are effected by a couple of drinks but perhaps he might not have been thinking that way.
“I think it is still up in the air to be quite honest, which is a little bit disappointing.”
Smith has played a record 411 NRL games – all at the Storm – and has shown no signs of letting up this season.
He has another year left to run on his deal, with the option to play on in 2020 currently in his favour.
However, he has deliberated over future at the end of the past two seasons, previously hinting he thought about retirement at the end of both 2017 and 2018.
“I think he can certainly go on for another 12 months and he is certainly playing well enough,” Bellamy said.
“As the guys that retired this year in Paul Gallen, Robbie Farah and Cooper Cronk they all have things that they want to do in their lives after footy.”
“Sometimes you have got to pick that time.
“The one thing about Cameron we won’t be telling him when it is time. He will make that decision and we will back him all the way.”
Smith said after Saturday night’s preliminary final loss to the Sydney Roosters that he was leaning towards playing on, but was still uncertain.
“My thoughts all year have been to play on next year. That’s probably where I’m at at the moment,” he said.
“But that might change over the next little period where I have got some time off to think about some things and weigh up what’s happening next year.”