After the full-time siren sounded to mark the end of the NRL Grand Final, one team’s dreams came true, while the other’s came crashing down.
The Storm had just lost the chance to become back-to-back premiers for the first time in 25 years, but captain Cameron Smith didn’t sit around and sulk.
The skipper made it a personal mission to get over to all fellow 16 teammates, to comfort them during that vulnerable time and offer some words of wisdom.
Smith has played 384 games in the NRL, playing in eight grand finals in his career thus far, so it’s safe to say the 35-year-old has had his fair share of jubilation and heartbreak.
As majority of Storm players slumped to the turf of ANZ Stadium, most of them in tears, Smith put aside his own pain in order to make sure his teammates weren’t alone.
That is what a captain does!
Speaking with foxsports.com.au, a couple of young guns from the Storm have revealed exactly what Smith said to them following the devastating loss.
Halfback Brodie Croft said it was pretty tough to all take in.
“Smith was the first one to come to me and that was pretty big when he came over,” Croft said.
“He had his hand on my shoulder and said I’m only young, it’s a game of rugby league. He said to bottle this feeling up and we’ll be better for it.
“He said I should be proud of my match and how far I’ve come this year.”
A grand final loss is gut wrenching for any player, but it certainly impacts the young players the most.
Centre Curtis Scott stayed motionless for a long time following the match, sitting with his head between his hands.
Meanwhile rookie Brandon Smith explained it was his skipper’s advise that helped him lift out of those sad emotions.
“He came up to me and said hold your head up high, this ain’t going to be your last grand final,” Smith said.
“He said I had a great grand final and once he said that I thought it’s all right, it made me feel a lot better about myself.
“He’s an unreal guy and hopefully I can learn a bit from this loss.”
Despite the loss, there’s quite a buzz surrounding Melbourne and their host of young players set to be future stars of the NRL.
Croft and B.Smith are just two of the players amongst a large group of the Storm’s emerging future with the talents of Jahrome Hughes, Cameron Munster and Scott still having a decade of footy left in them.
With two of the big three officially gone from the Storm’s playing rosters, it’s the beginning of a new era for the team in purple.
Croft revealed it’s an exciting time to be apart of the club.
“We will certainly be better for it. With Bill retiring, Hoffy (Ryan Hoffman) retiring, there’s opportunities there for the younger boys to step up,” Croft said.
“We’ve got the experience this year so hopefully we can build on that.”
The younger players have been told to ‘bottle up’ that raw emotion and the feeling of losing a grand final to draw on as motivation in the future.
“That’s what a few of the senior boys have told me … especially after the match because I was pretty shattered,” Croft said.
“Not only has it been a big year for me, but for Billy it was his last rugby league match and it’s pretty disappointing that’s how he was sent out.
“Those senior boys came up to me and told me to bottle this feeling up.
“I’m still young and I’ve got a lot of opportunities ahead of me to come, to hopefully get back to this big stage and be on the other side of the result.”