‘Silly season’: Smith returns, but no shock switch
Cameron Smith will report for Melbourne Storm pre-season on January 3.
Smith today confirmed he will suit up for a 19th NRL season.
The record 411-game champion and future Immortal Smith, 36, was contracted but after Storm crashed out of the finals in straight sets the skipper pondered retirement.
"I'm feeling really fresh now and looking forward to next year," Smith said.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back into training … start getting itchy feet after a few weeks (off) looking to get back into it."
Smith will use the remainder of his time off to fully recharge mentally in preparation in order to get through another "gruelling season".
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Despite falling short of the mark last year, the 36-year-old competitive beast has bold ambitions for Storm in 2020.
"I'm excited to see the squad improve on last year, although some people may scoff at that after our record (20-4) in the regular season," Smith told Storm TV.
"But I know the entire squad and coaching staff, the whole organisation were disappointed with the way we finished the year and bowed out of the finals.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the younger guys go to another level in 2020 … they're at a stage in their career now where they need to be looking to improve year on year and given what they were able to give us in 2019 I'd like to think we're going to be very competitive again in 2020."
Smith posted first on Twitter, declaring his intentions to play.
He also took the opportunity to dismiss a report about a mooted switch to halfback.
"Contrary to reports...... switching to halfback won't be happening. #sillyseason."
Speculation around Smith's future has raged for several weeks.
Coach Craig Bellamy told the Herald Sun the chance of Smith retiring "diminished" the longer the captain waited to make the decision.
"Whatever the right call was going to be for him was the right call for us," Bellamy said.
Bellamy did add to the frenzy on Dally M night, revealing Smith had spoken about retiring over a few beers at the club's Mad Monday function.
While confident Smith would play on, Bellamy and club officials were prepared to give the skipper the time and space he needed to make up his mind.
"Straight after the season I got the feeling that perhaps he wasn't going to go on," Bellamy said.
"The longer it went the chance of retiring diminished … I think if he was going to retire he would've made that decision reasonably quickly."