Melbourne Storm football boss Frank Ponissi has admitted that it is more unlikely than likely that Cameron Smith will play on in 2021.
The veteran remains undecided on his plans for this season despite originally stating he would reach a decision by Christmas.
The 430-gamer could retire or enter a 19th NRL season with the Storm or even the Gold Coast Titans - with his family relocating to Queensland at the end of last season.
Speaking on SEN Mornings, Ponissi revealed that the Storm are preparing for life without their champion hooker.
"Cameron is still deciding what his future holds," Ponissi said on SEN radio.
"I think there is more chance Cameron won't play than will play next year. He and his family have relocated to south-east Queensland, which we always knew about.
"From our point of view we're planning for life without Cameron. Now If that changes, like last year, you're flexible and change your plans.
"He has earned the right to make the decision. It's a tough decision for him to retire given how well he was playing. He was really enjoying playing as well - he had a fantastic season last year.
"But at the end of the day he is 37 going on to 38 years of age and he is probably thinking about the next stage of his career.
"I'm sure he will make it (a decision) in due course, but in terms of us, it's been no disruption. We've planned life without Cameron. If things change, we'll change it.
"But at the moment it's all going ahead to play Round 1 and a new season without Cameron - which is going to be really strange for all of us.
“It's been 19 seasons where he has been playing and been our captain for most of those seasons. We’re planning to get ready for a season without Cameron.”
“I don’t know how I’d feel (about that) until it happened,” he said.
“I probably wouldn’t like it that much, but like I’ve said all along, whatever is right for him and his family I’ll back them up all the way.
“If he ends up playing with another club and he believed that was the best thing for him and his family, then that’s great and I’ll go along with that knowing we’ve had the best out of him for the longest period of time.
“No one would begrudge what decision he comes up with.”
Smith has played 430 NRL games all for Melbourne since making his first-grade debut in 2002 and just won his third premiership with the club.
He turns 38 later this year.