Storm brewing around uncontracted Smith
IT'S the summer of Cam - a rare 100-day off-season break for a future Immortal who remains uncontracted ahead of his 18th NRL season.
Cameron Smith finished his duties with the Melbourne Storm on September 30 in his side's loss to the Sydney Roosters.
He's now on an extended family break in the US after a trip to Port Douglas holiday and isn't due back at training until January 3.
It's understood he, wife Barb and their kids will celebrate Christmas in the States.
No one else in the game has been given such an extensive break.
Smith is in the unusual position of being unsigned heading into the new year but Melbourne are optimistic Smith will sign a deal when he returns from overseas.
The delay in negotiations centres around Smith wanting a second year on a new contract which would end after the 2020 season, when he would be 37 years old.
Remarkably, at that age, Smith would still command a wage of around $1 million a season, given he has retired from representative football and can devote the entire season to the Storm.
Coach Craig Bellamy, football manager Frank Ponissi and Chief executive Dave Donaghy have also been away on holidays.
While such an extended break is unheard of for Smith, the Storm legend is expected to complete his own personal training while away.
Storm centre Will Chambers returned to training last month but has been given time off as he awaits the birth of his second child, a son, and is under contract for next season.
Melbourne's New Zealand contingent - Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich, Jahrome Hughes and Brandon Smith - also return to training on January 3 but they represented the Kiwis against England right up until the third Test on November 11.
Ponissi said recently: "I have absolutely no doubt that Cam Smith will be playing for the Melbourne Storm and he'll be at training on January the 3rd.
"This is the first time in his career that he's had three full months off, which we're really excited about.
"Craig (Bellamy, coach) and myself have spent quite a bit of time with Cameron over the summer on a social point of view and I'm happy to say that his mindset is as positive as I've ever seen.
"He's really excited about this year and I just think the break that he's currently having, he'll rock up to training so refreshed and ready to go."