From the glamour of Dally M glory to the grand final grind, Cameron Smith is pledging to get down and dirty in his quest to lead Melbourne to an overdue NRL premiership on Sunday night.
Smith is hoping he won’t need to make another 73 tackles as he did in last year’s shattering grand final loss to Cronulla, but will happily do so if that’s what it takes to stop North Queensland’s incredible charge.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if I had to. That’s just the nature of the game,” said the Dally M Medallist and hooker of the year.
“It’s a big match and I’m playing in the middle where a lot of the traffic comes in big games.
“I’m not really thinking about it too much. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t.
“I just apply myself to what’s needed on the day.”
Despite their dominance over the past decade, the Storm have only one title to show from a golden era that comes to end on Sunday when superstar halfback Cooper Cronks plays his seventh and last grand final for the club.
Coach Craig Bellamy doesn’t believe Smith, Cronk or champion fullback Billy Slater – who has also yet to make a public call on his future beyond 2017 – need a second premiership to cement their legacies as all-time greats.
But it would almost be an injustice if Smith didn’t add a second premiership ring to his two Dally M Medals and 11 State of Origin series wins for Queensland with the chance of a second World Cup crown to come next month.
Smith, though, knows the Cowboys will take a power of stopping and has identified Dally M runner-up Michael Morgan as North Queensland’s chief threat.
“With Johnathan (Thurston) being out for quite an amount of time now, he really has taken on that responsibility of being that chief playmaker,” said the Storm skipper.
“I think there was a time there when he just enjoyed being the man out there out the back and waiting for JT to feed him the ball, which he was extremely good at.
“But it’s been nice as an older player – I’ve been lucky to spend a bit of time with him in the Queensland side and the Australian side – to watch him develop his game over a few years and that’s all now come to fruition this season.
“When he’s needed to put his hand up and make the big plays and help his team get across the line, he’s done that.
“So for a guy that I’ve played a fair amount of football with, I’m very proud of what he’s done and we’ve got a big job on Sunday to try and limit the amount of work he does against us.”