Were it the Lions, and not the Broncos hosting the Melbourne Storm in what is shaping up as one of the 2017 Telstra NRL Premiership competition’s biggest blockbusters of the season, there would be substantially less cause for concern regarding the availability to Storm Captain Cameron Smith.
According to the Sydney Herald Sun, Smith has a sternum issue (breastbone for those of us who prefer simpler language), that he sustained in Queensland’s Origin I horror.
Smith did not train on Tuesday, so it is somewhat doubtful that he will be on the turf at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Storm Coach Craig Bellamy was keeping his cards close to the vest regarding Smith’s status, but about the only hole card in his hand would be the surprise of fielding a completely healthy Smith. Cameron Smith at less than his best, or at least close to his best, is a gamble Bellamy and the Storm cannot afford to take at this juncture of the season.
The Brisbane Broncos certainly cannot be taken lightly, but to jeopardise Smith’s future, short as it may be, on a regular season game when the Storm has a firm grip on the finals, and in all probability, the top rung on the ladder, would have to be viewed as foolhardy.
Smith was rested last week following his Origin appearance, which is not uncommon, but a bruised chest is no laughing matter. If he does not train the day of the match, he will not be green-lighted to play, which ultimately, could be for the best from the prospect of the Storm’s NRL aspirations.
They will still have plenty of star-power on the ground, with Will Chambers returning after being knocked out of Origin II, along with Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.
If, as it appears, the Storm are legitimate contenders to dethrone the Cronulla Sharks for the 2017 Premiership, they should certainly be able to sustain another game sans Cameron Smith.