Unfortunately for the past week and a bit, rugby league discussion has been dominated by the fall out of last Sunday night’s 60 minutes special.
There is no need to go into detail as everyone knows what was said, and we all have our own opinions on the matter, and the matter does not need to be raised again.
However, unfortunately this Friday Night’s game between the Storm and the Panthers, Cam Smith’s 300th NRL game, faces the possibility of being the back story rather than the main event.
Despite the goings on of the past week, and no matter what your opinion, I really hope Cam Smith’s 300th game is what it should be, a chance to celebrate the brilliant career of a brilliant player.
Smith, the Storm, Queensland and Australian captain, is one of the best players of the modern era, and arguably the best hooker to ever play the game.
He was not born with the physical gifts of a Greg Inglis for instance, but he has arguably the best footballing brain, at least of the players I have seen in my 30 years.
The goal kicking number nine has been an absolute superstar at every level of the game. His presence in the best ever QLD side cannot be understated.
His ability to read the game, and supply quality ball from dummy half is second to none.
Add to that the fact he will post 40+ tackles a game, play as a third playmaker when needed, and can kick goals from everywhere, and you have a pretty handy player to say the least.
Of course plenty will make light of the fact he was part of the all-conquering Storm that was found to have been systematically rorting the salary cap, however his standing in the game cannot be denied.
Once again, there will be plenty who point out his history at the judiciary, however I’d challenge you to find a player with 300 games, who haven’t walked that fine line between toughness and over the top.
Say what you want about Smith, but no one can argue with the fact he is amongst the game’s elite.
His name has even been mentioned as a future immortal. His 300+ games, 36 origin jerseys and almost 50 Kangaroo jumpers help him form a pretty decent argument to at least be in the discussions.
The fact he can celebrate his 300th game in front of what should be a big home crowd against the Panthers is nothing less than what he deserves.
At only 32 years of age, you wouldn’t bet against Smith playing at least another two seasons. Who knows how many games he will have played by then, but even if he were to hang up the boots tomorrow, he would go down in history as one of the greats.
Top Eight Uncertainties
Following the feedback from yesterday’s Sea Eagle comments, plenty have put forward their suggestions for this season’s top eight standings.
Looking at the table right now, and given the closeness of the competition, if I were to put my house on it, I’d only be confident of saying that the Cowboys, Broncos and Roosters are absolute certainties.
It’s unlike Souths will go from premiers to out of the top eight, especially considering where they sit right now, so I’d be fairly confident of the need to buy finals tickets if I were a Souths fan.
As for the four remaining spots, who knows?
If I were a betting man, I’d say the Warriors, Bulldogs, Sharks and either the Storm or Dragons would round out the eight.
The Sea Eagles and Raiders should have some say in the final make-up of the eight. I don’t expect the other sides to be there, although as a fan of the underdogs, I’m happy to be wrong.
Would love to hear who everyone has finishing in their top eight.
From table toppers to spoon favourites
For the life of me I still cannot understand how the Newcastle Knights went from topping the table at the conclusion of round four, to being odds on favourites to capture the wooden spoon.
Some sides have copped an absolute hammering on the injury front, but the Knights have not been hugely hit.
Sure Jarrod Mullen has been out for a long stretch of the season, however compared to the likes of the Sea Eagles and Panthers, the Knights haven’t had the worst run.
Their big off season recruit Tariq Sims has been good, but unspectacular and probably hasn’t lived up to the hype just yet.
Having signed current NSW half Trent Hodkinson, there should be brighter days ahead. Big man Mickey Paea will also be joining the Newcastle side next season, however the Knights surely have to get busy in the market to close the gap to the stronger sides next year.
NSW back-rower Beau Scott and Mr Fix-It Kurt Gidley will leave the club, but otherwise they are holding onto the majority of their first team squad.
Rick Stone, having re-signed the likes of Gagai and the Mata’utia brothers, will be confident of a much improved season in 2016. However, he may need to put together some wins in 2015 to not only avoid finishing last, but to retain his job.