Rugby league legend Billy Slater has revealed he has spoken to Storm skipper and good friend Cameron Smith about his retirement decision ahead of the 2020 Grand Final.
Smith revealed on Thursday he had reached out to a number of retried players he played with to get a gauge on what made them pull the pin and hang up the boots.
Slater played his entire 319-game career with Smith before bowing out after the Storm’s 2018 Grand Final loss to the Roosters and admitted Smith had sought his council.
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Smith hints he’ll play on next season?
NRL: While Melbourne Storm legend Cameron Smith has yet to make a decision on his playing future, he may have hinted he will play another season ahead of the Grand Final.
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“Yeah I am good mates with him and he is such a humble guy that he genuinely doesn’t know whether he wants to retire just yet,” Slater said on The Big Sports Breakfast.
“You’re a long time retired and once your body goes it goes, so there is no having a year off and then changing your mind.
“I have had those conversations with Cam and it is a really tough decision for him because he is getting to the age where he knows it is coming to an end, but is this year the last one? I’m not too sure.
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“I think he is just enjoying what he is doing and he wants to give him and his team the best chance of winning this premiership and then make a decision off the back of that.”
Smith’s reasons for delaying his decision on whether to play on in 2021 have been speculated for months, with a grand final smokescreen to take the pressure off his team and the result of the decider floated as key contributing factors.
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However Slater also believes Smith simply doesn’t want to retire before he is 100 per cent happy with his decision, but believes family and the coronavirus pandemic will play a major part in his final call.
“He has said in the past that holding the trophy up at the end of this year will certainly have an impact on his decision,” Slater said.
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“There is also the matter of what happens next year and let’s not forget the Melbourne Storm are trying to win the comp out of a suitcase.
“They’ve lived away from home for five months and played two home games all season. It is an incredible achievement for this group of people.
“Cameron Smith is a very family orientated person and he has been away from his family for a lot of this season.
Cameron Smith with friends and former teammates Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater.Source:Getty Images
“I’m sure if things continued in the current fashion next season that would impact his decision as well.”
Regardless if Smith’s 430th game against the Panthers on Sunday is his last, Slater just marvels at the fact his old teammate, who is the same age as him is still playing so well at 37.
“It is an amazing achievement and I can’t believe he is still going around performing at that sort of level,” Slater said.
“It just shows you the durability and competitiveness he still has in his game. He will go down as one of our greats.”
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Originally published asSlater reveals heart-to-heart with Smith over Storm skipper’s retirement call
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