SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 28: Cameron Smith of the Storm reacts during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Sydney Roosters and the Melbourne Storm at the Sydney Cricket Ground on September 28, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

NRL journalist Paul Crawley has suggested Melbourne captain Cameron Smith isn't the greatest player in the game's history, claiming there to be a recency bias around the champion hooker.

Smith is eyeing his fifth Grand Final victory this Sunday in what will be his 430th match for the Storm, adding to 11 Origin series and two World Cups across his decorated career.

While the numbers stack up, Crawley believes Smith doesn't rank above some of the game's greatest ever.

“It’s nothing against Cameron Smith personally,” Crawley told NRL360 on Fox League.

“But I actually think it’s a bit of an insult to 112 years of rugby league history [in Australia] that we constantly say that he’s the best.

“I can remember when Wally Lewis retired, he was the greatest of any generation I’d seen. “Then along comes Andrew Johns, JT, Bobby Fulton, and the great St George days where they were amateurs – Langlands, Raper, Gasnier, Artie Beetson, Clive Churchill, and Dally Messenger.

“Every generation has its best, Cameron Smith is the best of his time. But I don’t think anyone can categorically say that he’s the best of all time.”

In comparison with Andrew Johns, Crawley said that Smith isn't as exciting to watch.

“I’ll say another thing too, he doesn’t put me on the edge of the seat when I play,” he said.

“When you watched Joey, it was exhilarating.

“In 2005 when he came back and won NSW that Origin series, what he did on the field it was like he was a magician.

“It was like watching a beautiful painting, rugby league is not just about how long you’ve played or what your career record says.”

Smith games and points record are seen as unreachable feats as the Melbourne skipper looks likely to announce his retirement following Sunday's result.


  1. This guy is not even in the top five best of the last 20years. He had longevity because he hides well in defence, yes he makes tackles but almost all of his tackles are after someone else does the initial hit, he just holds them for the defensive line to form. Creativity wise he doesn’t make top 10, captain wise he falls behind Locky and Joey and even RTS inspires his team better. He would have struggled to win any of his GF if not for salary cap scandal or Cronk. He may be a good dummy half, but do was bedsy and both Walters.
    All he is as a player is a snake that slithered into an aura where refs don’t want to upset him, and other teams can’t touch him.
    His only achievement worth mentioning is his 400+ games. That is significant and unlikely to be bettered.

  2. Paul Crawley – I’m standing and applauding!

    Saying literally what everybody in NSW actual thinks (bar the media hype machines of course).

  3. stiive, spot on buddy. I think we can all say Smith is an ultra consistent player who definitely influences games and works well with the players around him. However to even put him in the same breath as Thurston, Johns, Lockyer, Slater, Cronk, Lewis or even players like Kenny, Inglis and Daley is basically drinking BS Kool-Aid. Imo he gets absolutely no points for making a career out of bending and exploiting the rules. Will not go down as revered in the annals of history.

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