NRL Rd 19 - Storm v Sea Eagles
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 27: Cameron Smith (c) of the Storm (R) talks with Brandon Smith of the Storm during the round 19 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Manly Sea Eagles at AAMI Park on July 27, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Harry Grant!

Cameron Smith has yet to declare his playing future for 2021. After 430 games the Melbourne Storm and NRL legend’s decision will also decide the future of rising superstar and heir apparent Harry Grant.

With Smith coming to the end of his playing career and master coach Craig Bellamy closing in on his final years with the Storm, both will want to set up the club for future success.

Grant can no longer be held back or shipped off on a loan as he did with the Wests Tigers in 2020. He knows he would be welcomed by the other 15 teams in a heartbeat. 

After captaining the Storm to a Premiership in 2020, Smith, at 37, could still play on in 2021 and rightfully deserves to decide when to retire .

Although if Smith decides to go on in 2021, Grant or Brandon Smith could seek options elsewhere, notably the Gold Coast Titans.

Alternatively, the other option would be for Smith to leave and play out his career with another club. All three Queensland teams have expressed interest in signing the Storm skipper.

This would be sad to see, particularly for Storm fans, but it would enable the Storm to sure up its future by retaining Grant and Brandon Smith.

Craig Bellamy would also like to ensure he passes the club on to his yet unnamed successor in great shape, so to continue his legacy.

Should Cam Smith leave the reigning premiers, they will need to win without his leadership and game control. Grant has shown capabilities that he can fill the void with his time at the Tigers and in his State of Origin debut.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 18: Harry Grant of the Maroons celebrates scoring a try during game three of the State of Origin series between the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues at Suncorp Stadium on November 18, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The Storm have kept the nucleus of the 2020 Premiership team, with exception of young gun Tino Fa’asuamaleaui to the Gold Coast Titans and Suliasi Vunivalu to Rugby Union.

The way the Storm continue to find untapped talent is amazing. I look forward to them unveiling more new young stars or unwanted battlers in the upcoming 2021 season.

Melbourne have recruited Reimis Smith from the Bulldogs and George Jennings from Parramatta to help cover the lose of Vunivalu. Like any recruited player under Bellamy, they inevitably play at a level above anything we have seen from them previously.

It is scary to think Ryan Papenhuyzen, Jahrome Hughes, Nicho Hynes Justin Olam, Brenko Lee, Brandon Smith and Harry Grant have yet to play 100 first grade games. Their best football is in front of them.

Combine the younger players with experienced leaders Cameron Munster, Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane, and the Storm will be hard to stop in 2021. Their leadership group will cover the loss of Smith.

Munster wants an opportunity to be the man. To achieve success in the post-Cameron Smith era is important to him. He has shown at Origin level he thrives when given more responsibility. A trait that seems to reside within Papenhuyzen as well.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 10: Cameron Munster of the Melbourne Storm celebrates after scoring a try with Cameron Smith of the Melbourne Storm during the round 14 NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos at AAMI Park on June 10, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Time is running out on the Bellamy reign at the Storm. What he has achieved in his time has been amazing.

Only Wayne Bennett’s time at the Brisbane Broncos can be compared in the modern era.

The Storm need to learn from the Broncos’ mistakes. For years they have struggled to move on from Wayne Bennett. It is important the Storm set up the club for Bellamy’s replacement so not to fall down the same rabbit hole.

If the Storm can retain Grant and the core of the current team by the time Smith deiced to either retire or head to another team, his departure will be meaningful and ensure the future of the Storm for years to come.