A preliminary final loss to Canberra on Friday night could see Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith bow out of the NRL with minimum fuss.
And that’s just the way he wants it, according to Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
A future Immortal, Smith will play his 429th match in the grand-final qualifier at Suncorp Stadium and it may be his last before retirement.
But because the 37-year-old is yet to tell Melbourne of his decision, there will be no pomp and ceremony – although at least the game will be in front of a maximum crowd of 39,000 which is 75 per cent capacity of the Brisbane venue.
“We still honestly don’t know what Cameron is doing,” Bellamy said on Thursday.
“Right at the start I said I didn’t expect an answer from him until he’s ready to give an answer so he hasn’t been ready to give an answer.
“We would have liked to have made it a bit more special if it is his last game but is that a sign he’s going to go on? I don’t know.
“I promised him I wouldn’t put any heat on him.”
Bellamy said because of that pact he hadn’t asked Smith again this week about whether their 19-year relationship at the Storm was coming to a close.
He thought even if Smith had made a retirement call he was keeping it to himself because he wanted the match to be about the team rather than himself.
“I think it’s all that to be honest because I said to him we’d like to give you a send-off and he said ‘Why’.
“He’s not one of those guys who wants the fanfare, he wants to achieve what he sets out to achieve and he doesn’t need the accolades,” Bellamy said.
The Storm went through their final training session on Thursday with NSW Origin lock Dale Finucane, who hasn’t played since round 14 due to a calf injury, still not 100 per cent.
Bellamy was still tossing up Finucane’s long time out against his experience of playing in five grand finals.
“He obviously gives us a whole heap of experience with playing Origins and grand finals and he’s a great leader,” Bellamy said of Finucane.
“Eight or nine weeks is a long time not to be playing but it’s worth that risk to have a player who has that experience and is probably one of the most competitive players I’ve ever coached.”
The coach was brighter about star playmaker Cameron Munster, who was in doubt after re-injuring his knee in the qualifying final.
“I haven’t been concerned with him at all,” Bellamy said of the five-eighth.”