All the contract talks at the Melbourne Storm seem to be revolved around big name players Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster, however, many people are forgetting forward Christian Welch remains unsigned.
Contracted until the end of 2019, Welch still has one more season left to run with the Storm and is hoping he can secure an extension with the great club.
Despite training with the Queensland Maroons last State of Origin series, the Storm’s priorities are to secure Munster’s extension deal and lock down captain Smith for 2019, meaning Welch is at the back of the line.
Welch, 24, recently joined retired veteran Ryan Hoffman for a short course in business negotiations at Harvard University during the off-season.
The forward said to the media he is happy to negotiate his own contract extension when the time is right.
‘‘I think I’m down the pecking order a bit,’’ Welch said.
‘‘The two Camerons need to get sorted and a few other boys before they start talking to me. I’m just looking to have a good pre-season and start the season well, then hopefully that will flow on.’’
Melbourne will definitely want Smith back for the 2019 season to help guide the youngsters at the Storm, given the retirement of legend Billy Slater, as the club looks to the future.
Smith will have the chance to become the first ever player to reach 400 NRL games and try to achieve premiership glory again, with Welch stating: ‘‘We really hope he comes back next year as he is a real champion of our game.’’
Its not a distracted for the Storm not having the Smith deal done and dusted yet as the champion hooker is rarely seen back at the club until later on in the pre-season.
Welch believes Smith deserves a break after what his put his body through last season.
‘‘We don’t see too much of Cameron at this time of year,’’ Welch said.
‘‘He has the NRL games record for a reason, so it’s all about getting his body and his mental side of things ready for the start of the season. With his longevity in the game, it wears people down.’’
Welch would like to follow in the footsteps of his captain into the State of Origin arena, as a similar story-line to former Storm forward Tim Glasby is a huge motivator for him heading into the pre-season.
Glasby was an underrated player by many, then made his name debuting for Queensland in 2017 and will now begin a salary improved contract with the Newcastle Knights.
Welch admits he wants to take his game to the next level, that being State of Origin.
“It’s a dream of any Queensland kid growing up,” Welch said.
“Seeing first hand the Queensland players we have had at Melbourne Storm, in my position we had Tim Glasby who came to our club from Central Queensland and went on to play NRL and play so well in State of Origin, he is certainly an inspiration for me to try and drive to make that team.”