Smith the GOAT that got away from Broncos
CAMERON Smith's sensational performance in his 350th NRL game on Sunday has reignited one of sport's never-ending debates.
The 34-year-old scored 12 points, set up four tries and made 31 tackles in a man of the match showing for Melbourne in its 40-6 win over Manly at AAMI Park.
It's amazing he was playing at all given he suffered a pectoral injury last week against Canberra, and to produce the effort he did adds further weight to the argument he's rugby league's greatest of all time (GOAT).
Former NSW and Australian representative Matthew Johns certainly puts him on a pedestal above all else.
"He's playing in obvious discomfort but dominated the contest, as he's done at Origin level and Test level," Johns said on Triple M.
"He's the best big-game player of all time. I'm watching yesterday saying, maybe he is the best we've ever seen. We speak a lot about (Johnathan) Thurston ... but we're forgetting about Cam Smith. In my opinion I think he is the best of all time."
All of Smith's 350 appearances have been in the Storm jersey but, growing up in Queensland, forging a career with the Broncos was always on the cards.
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett tried to lure Smith to the club as a 16-year-old but he chose life in Melbourne over staying in the Queensland capital because the Victorian club showed more initial interest in him.
"The Broncos didn't see a lot in me until the Storm came along, then they made an offer for me to go to the Broncos," Smith told the Courier Mail in 2015.
"Although I was a massive Broncos fan and wanted to play for them, I saw a better opportunity at Melbourne and it's turned out to be a good decision."
The Broncos were reportedly in the hunt for Smith's signature in 2014 but again the hooker recommitted to Melbourne until the end of 2018. Brisbane would have been his destination had he chosen to leave the Storm, but Smith said he never received a direct offer from Brisbane to come to Red Hill.
Johns said Brisbane's inability to keep the Queensland native in Brisbane when he was a teenager would forever haunt the club.
"They (the Broncos) had an opportunity to sign him and they didn't pick him up. That is, in rugby league terms, just about the biggest blunder of all time," Johns said.