‘Hard to knock back’: Smith feared Bellamy was Broncos bound
NO stranger to Brisbane's allure, Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith admits he feared the Broncos had finally got their man when they came hard for Storm coach Craig Bellamy this year.
Off contract Smith, 35, is showing no signs of slowing down, revealing that he planned to play on in 2019 - his 18th NRL season with the Storm.
The former Test and Queensland captain is now on track to become the first player to reach the 400-game milestone next year.
Not that Brisbane had to be reminded.
At the Broncos, Smith will forever be the one that got away. First the Logan product slipped through the Broncos recruitment net as a junior. Then came the real gut punch for the Brisbane board.
Smith looked certain to link with the Broncos and returning coach Wayne Bennett in 2015 on a blockbuster deal to be closer to family, even telling Bellamy he was leaving before being talked out of it by his wife Barbara.
"I think he (Bellamy) gave her (Barbara) a big hug the next time he saw her," Smith told Fox Sports' League Life of his well documented Broncos close call.
"(But) I nearly ended up in Brisbane."
The Broncos were hopeful their luck would change in Melbourne when they set their sights on Bellamy in May, offering him the club's richest coaching deal - $5 million over four years from 2020.
History shows Bellamy stayed loyal to Melbourne, re-signing for another three years on reportedly $4 million - but not after some anxious moments for Smith. "There were a couple of moments where I was a little bit worried he was going to head up to Brisbane," Smith said.
"When I saw the offer they threw at him I got a bit worried then, I thought it might be a bit hard to knock back.
"He rang me to have a chat about what he was thinking. He spoke about why he would go back to Brisbane but reasons why he would stay as well.
"After that conversation I felt quite comfortable he would stay in Melbourne and about two weeks later he made the decision to stay."