Cameron Smith is the standout player of our generation.
There is no question he has earned the right to retire on his terms, provided he’s gone sometime before next weekend.
It’s a big call, but he’s a special player worthy of such treatment – and after a glittering career spanning 428 games, allowing him ten days to abruptly end an 18-year career is the least we can do.
With the champion hooker only two wins away from burgling another premiership from the Sydney stronghold – this time whisking it away to Queensland on behalf of a club from Victoria – it is clear that much like the play-the-ball area, he has done more than his fair share of time.
But knowing the mark of the man, he will be desperate to stoically continue forth if his side advances to the grand final – and if this occurs, then regrettably the game is left with no choice but to take the decision out of his hands.
This may seem unorthodox, but if the NRL can stipulate when the Melbourne Storm can and cannot cramp, then surely they can step in and force Smith to retire, especially when it’s for his own welfare.
After all, he has served the game selflessly for a career spanning almost two decades and 25-odd trophies, and that’s just the official ones. I’m sure you would all agree, he needs to give it a rest.
The former Aussie skipper deserves better than to exit the game lifting another trophy on a Sunday night – with no public holiday Monday – in front of a half-filled stand 25 km west of the city, most probably in stifling heat and a face mask. It simply cannot happen.
As reported by a number of disgruntled News Limited scribes in recent weeks, Smith is currently in the midst of taking his time, that being, with his retirement decision, this premiership campaign, his flops and his career.
While reports have emerged Friday that his decision is imminent – with the hot tip he will bow out at season’s end – many are suspect on account of it being a man who cannot be trusted to age or regress.
Deciding his future is the latest infuriating act from the Immortal-in-waiting, a trait common across a career of three trademark plays that upset opposition: playing, winning and existing.
Some pundits have even complained he is taking so long, it’s almost like he thinks it’s his own decision.
This has seen many urging the hooker to stop putting himself first, and start thinking of others. Not his club, his family and Harry Grant, but tortured opposition teams` and Paul Kent and his blood pressure.
And if that’s not enough, at the very least they believe he should do it for Kevin Walters, who regardless of anything Smith says is defiantly continuing to select the hooker in his teams for time immemorial.
Such is the resulting speculation that Smith and the Storm have been forced into regular frustrated denials, fuelling concerns that if the whispers continue, he may actually never retire purely out of spite.
Henceforth, a decree must be handed down from above to end this circus on Smith’s behalf – and the best way is to send him somewhere relaxing to put his feet up, like the rugby league afterlife or the Broncos.
The Maroons doyen deserves to bow out with dignity, and not in the face of speculation and the breath of voracious tabloid journalists. Plus he’s got 75 carryover points that cannot be risked.