Cameron Smith’s asking price could mean his teammates get shown the door.
Cameron Smith’s asking price could mean his teammates get shown the door.

Smith contract stand-off spells bad news for Storm teammates

If Cameron Smith or any of his Storm teammates won't be at Melbourne next NRL season, it's news to the players.

The Storm are back into pre-season training looking to put their gut-wrenching grand final defeat by the Sydney Roosters behind them.

Skipper Smith is yet to re-sign for 2019, seven weeks after the decider, but isn't due back until January along with the New Zealand players who had post- season Tests.

Centre Curtis Scott said he hadn't heard anything of a report that Melbourne are looking to off-load some players in order to free up some extra money to satisfy Smith's contract

Speaking on SEN Breakfast radio on Tuesday, Fairfax rugby league reporter Adrian Proszenko said Melbourne is desperate to keep Smith given the loss of Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk over the past two seasons, and said the big money the hooker is asking for means some of his teammates will be shown the door.

"This is an interesting one, he's 35-years-old, he'll be 36 next year and he's chasing a seven-figure contract," Proszenko said. "My understanding is Melbourne, in order to meet his asking price, have to move on a few players.

"My mail is that big Sam Kasiano, one of their forwards and a couple of their other teammates - Patrick Kaufusi and Cheyse Blair - have been told they can find new clubs if they can, because they basically want to fit Cam Smith in.

"There's been a massive transition over there already with Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk moving on, and they're desperate for Cam Smith to play on with his experience and everything that he brings.

"As it stands they're only a few weeks away from pre-season and haven't been able to do a deal, so they're going to try and move a couple of guys on who are surplus to requirements to fit him (Smith) in under the salary cap."

Even at 35 Cameron Smith deserves to be one of the highest paid players in the game.
Even at 35 Cameron Smith deserves to be one of the highest paid players in the game.

Scott said he hadn't heard anything about players being moved on to keep Smith and said it was business as usual with the Storm captain absent.

"He doesn't normally come back until after Christmas so it's pretty normal at the moment," Scott said.

Should Smith need some assistance with his contract he could call on prop Christian Welch, who spent time in October at Harvard completing a short course in Effective Negotiation Skills.

"I finished my degree last year so I just saw a short course that would be good for me post-career," Welch said.

The 24-year-old intends to represent himself in his contract talks which are likely to start before round one.

Welch said the 21-6 grand final loss to the Roosters still stung and would provide some motivation through the pre-season.

"Especially with it being such a disappointing performance in the grand final," Welch said.

"It's such a long year to get to the grand final and to perform like that … it's certainly motivating for us to start the pre-season well and get through our work."

With staff writers