WAG feud behind sad Storm split
THE scandal surrounding the reported falling out between Melbourne Storm's famed "Big Three" has deepened with a stunning report claiming a WAG feud is behind the entire mess.
Widespread reports have blown the lid off superstar Cameron Smith's reportedly broken relationships with teammate Billy Slater and former teammate Cooper Cronk since the Roosters halfback's cold handshake with Smith in Adelaide last round.
Even before Cronk's apparent refusal to hug it out with Smith on the Adelaide Oval, reports emerged of a rift between Slater and Smith where it was indicated Slater was at a loss to understand why his captain was freezing him out.
The real depth of the sad falling out was revealed on Sunday when reports emerged that Smith's wife Barb and Slater's wife Nicole fell out during the 2017 season before they all went into camp during the 2017 World Cup, which included a retreat at a Fijian resort with all the Kangaroos' players' partners.
The report indicates Slater attempted to repair the strained relationship, but was shut out.
"The fact that Smith is offside with two of his best mates, Cronk and Slater, is the public manifestation of issues that have been masked by his status as one of the best players of his generation," Fairfax journalist Danny Weidler reported
"It is clear what caused the relationship breakdowns. With Slater, it started with a falling-out between their wives. Slater tried to put that to one side when he heard Smith was going through a rough patch away from football.
"Slater was shut out to the point where the pair have a professional relationship, but no longer a personal one."
The report indicates the animosity between Smith and Cronk is even worse.
After Cronk's decision to play on with the Roosters in 2018 after reportedly previously informing his Storm teammates that he would retire, Smith made a personal approach to sign Mitchell Pearce, who was at that point still undecided about potentially seeking a release from the Roosters.
Pearce was eventually granted a release by the Chooks, but signed with the Newcastle Knights instead.
It was reported last week Smith's relationship with Cronk reached breaking point when Smith failed to attend Cronk's wedding.
"Their feud erupted when Cronk quit the Storm at the end of last season to join the Roosters," veteran reporter Phil Rothfield wrote.
"A few weeks later Smith didn't attend Cronk's wedding."
Former Storm premiership-winner Brett Finch said last Sunday that Cronk and Smith were never the closest of teammates during his time at the club.
Finch also admitted that it appeared "frosty" when they exchanged pleasantries following the Storm's big win in Adelaide.
"Even though they've spent a lot of time playing footy together down there at the Storm and obviously juniors before that, they're two totally different people," he said.
"They were never the tightest of mates to start with. Obviously they had a great working relationship, but they never spent every moment together outside of footy.
"Smithy's got a young family, he's had that from a young age whereas Cooper's been single pretty much up until the time he met Tara.
"It did look frosty, though, didn't it."
Meanwhile, Storm coach Craig Bellamy said he had no idea there was any ill-feeling between his greatest pupils until reports emerged last week.
"I don't know exactly what's happened between them," he said.
"If there's an issue, you'd like to see them work it out although it's a personal thing and it's their own business. I've got a really good relationship with both of them and I'm going to keep it that way."