Why the Titans have to make a play for Smith
WITH Christmas a fortnight away, business tycoon Darryl Kelly, the Titans co-owner with the snowy white hair and beard, should play Santa and give Gold Coast fans the ultimate festive present.
He should sign Cameron Smith from Melbourne and deliver him onto the Titans' doorstep.
Merry Christmas, Titans fans. For putting up with years of mayhem, misery and mediocrity, we thank you by announcing the acquisition of arguably the greatest player in NRL history.
The notion of the Titans poaching Smith may sound fanciful, but surely it is nowhere near as mind-boggling as the bizarre circumstances that still leave the Maroons legend a free agent on the open market.
It has been 74 days since Smith played in the NRL grand final against the Roosters without a contract for the 2019 season.
Today, he remains unsigned.
It is beyond belief.
How on earth is Cam Smith, the most-capped player in NRL history, the most-capped player in Origin history, the greatest hooker in history, the most influential player in the code today and a future NRL Immortal, without a home one month into the new pre-season?
What is even more mystifying is that rival NRL clubs aren't even attempting to pull Melbourne's pants down.
As the most protracted contract saga of Smith's career drags on - seemingly over his value under the salary cap and his shock desire to play two more seasons - surely another club has the gumption and guile to orchestrate an audacious poaching raid.
That club should be the Titans.
If the Titans could afford to pay $1.2 million for Jarryd Hayne, they can afford Smith, a player who would give the Gold Coast incalculably more than the Hayne Plane ever did.
Rugby league's beauty lies its ability to sell narratives. And there would be a genuine romance to the Titans signing Smith: the blue-collar kid from nearby Logan, the Origin icon returning home to Queensland to oversee the revival of a Gold Coast club crying out as much for success as relevance.
Of course, Melbourne have a glorious inside running. Smith's entire 16-year NRL career has been devoted to the Storm. He loves the club and, ideally, Smith would finish his career in Melbourne ... provided the financial terms are right.
The truth is loyalty in rugby league is now a conceptual relic. It has gone the way of spear tackles, on-field brawls, the Wests Magpies and brown leather footballs.
Now loyalty comes at a price.
When Darren Lockyer retired from Brisbane in 2011, he took a 70 per cent pay cut, playing for $200,000 in his final season to ensure he remained a proud Bronco for life.
Smith, still the NRL's No.1 player, should not be expected to take such a drastic pay cut ... or any pay cut for that matter.
No-one ever thought Cooper Cronk, Smith's partner-in-crime, would ever quit Melbourne.
The headache for Melbourne is that they recently outlaid $4 million to sign Cameron Munster to a five-year upgrade, all the while not expecting the other Cameron to drop his 2020 NRL bombshell.
Kelly, a multi-millionaire property mogul who does deals for a living, must surely realise the financial benefits for the Titans if he chases Smith.
He should offer Smith a 12-year, $12 million deal. Two years of NRL service, followed by a 10-year post-football package in which Smith plays an ambassadorial role across several arms of the Titans' operations.
Smith can mentor the next generation of Titans stars and bring in millions of corporate dollars splashed across billboards throughout Queensland.
It all makes sense. The Gold Coast bosses just need to come up with the dollars.
Titans fans would think all their Christmases had come at once.