NRL 2020: Cameron Smith future debated in heated journo clash on NRL 360

As the NRL waits with bated breath for Cameron Smith to decide his plan for the future, the NRL 360 panel has had a heated argument over the NRL legend‘s decision.

After reports Craig Bellamy confronted Smith over his playing future with three of the best hookers in the game, with Harry Grant impressing on loan to the Wests Tigers and Brandon Smith playing understudy at the Storm.

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But there has been some unrest in the ranks with Brandon Smith reportedly telling the Storm that he would seek a release if Cameron Smith played on.

Smith, the all-time leading pointscorer and most capped player in the history of the game, is 37 and retirement rumours have swirled around the champion hooker for years.

While he has left the decision late in the past few seasons, he‘s not being afforded the same courtesy this season with the Storm seeking an answer with a glut of high quality players behind Cameron.

Speaking on Monday‘s Big Sports Breakfast, The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield said the Storm are pushing for a call as “Bellamy bailed him up last week on Tuesday and put it on him and said, ‘Look, we’re getting close’. Cameron said, ‘I genuinely don’t know’.”

Cameron Smith appears to be ageless.Source:Getty Images

But on NRL 360 on Monday, Rothfield clashed with host Paul Kent, who is calling for the legend to make a decision.

Kent said while Smith is “the greatest player we‘ve ever seen”, he said it was hypocritical when every week the panel slam clubs for poor salary cap management.

“It‘s not a personal thing, Ben,” Kent said. ”Everyone makes out that it’s a personal thing. The fact is eight weeks ago, seven weeks ago, he was going to make his decision in three weeks. You’ve got two very handy footballers out there in Harry Grant and Brandon Smith who’s futures are dependent on this decision.

“And grandpa Smith is sitting there doing his knitting, holding everybody at bay. I get Cameron is retiring at some point and when he makes that decision, it‘s his decision. But in the age of the salary cap, you don’t have the luxury of making a late end of season decision.

“For example, if Cameron waits until the end of the season and says ‘I‘m done’, Melbourne have got the best part of $1 million sitting in their salary cap identified for him and if it gets to the point where he says I can’t do it, that million dollars can’t then be spent of a like-for-like. You can’t even get two quality $500,000 players at the end of the season. If he loves the club as much as he says he loves the club, make a decision for the club’s benefit.”

Harry Grant has been one of the players of 2020 – for the Wests Tigers.Source:News Corp Australia

But Rothfield hit back at Kent‘s suggestion, sparking a heated exchange.

“Kenty, I think you‘re being disrespectful,” he said.

Kent fired back: “What rubbish Buzz”.

“The grandpa business,” he replied. ”It‘s disrespectful.”

Kent: “It‘s not disrespectful, maybe he should show some respect for the Storm.”

Rothfield: “When Allan Border and Shane Warne retired from the Australian cricket team, did we put a time limit on it?”

Kent: “Buzz, totally different, cricket doesn‘t have a salary cap situation. Brandon Smith’s manager has already gone to the Storm and said if Cameron plays next year, then we want permission to seek a release and Harry Grant’s got a clause in his contract that says if Cameron plays in 2021 at Storm, then he can go and negotiate somewhere. You’ve got two players, one’s already a Test player, the other who has the potential to be a Test player both sitting there.”

Kent added that teams like the Cowboys missed out on Kalyn Ponga because the club was holding out money to keep Johnathan Thurston.

Brandon Smith has given the Storm an ultimatum.Source:Getty Images

Rothfield bit back again.

“The Storm have already said they have two salary cap scenarios ready to go when the decision is made. And this isn‘t a question of the Titans trying to pinch him or the Broncos trying to get him to mentor the young players, this is about a guy who genuinely doesn’t know whether to give it away or not,” he said.

Kent pointed out that Smith waited until two weeks before the Queensland Origin camp to retire from State of Origin.

He added that there is a board meeting where the club will seek an answer from Smith, with Kent saying the club “is frustrated”.

Fox Sports’ James Hooper then entered the fray, revealing that there were text messages circulating that Smith would inform his teammates after the match against the Sea Eagles on Sunday afternoon.

Only Cameron Smith knows how much longer Cameron Smith has left as a player.Source:Getty Images

NRL 360 co-host Ben Ikin said he believes that Smith is fresh and ready to go around for another season.

“Let‘s just say he wants to go on and he is concerned for the club, he doesn’t want to see them lose Brandon Smith or Harry Grant, surely that would be confusing,” Ikin said. ”If you feel, and he’s probably earned the right to decide that he wants to go on another year, that’s what’s making this decision difficult. He’s ready to go again, he’s ready to play another 12 months.”

Ikin even suggested Smith could announce that he‘s not at Melbourne next year rather than retirement.

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